Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Question of Blood, and its Indeterminable Value

This is a weirdly sensitive post, but I just feel like I need to get it off my chest.

My father's family has always been a difficult subject for me to broach, for a lot of reasons. I realized this morning, after an unnecessarily explosive conversation with my dear old dad, that I am still not over it, not after all these years.

Here I am, almost 30, still smarting at the way my father's family has made me feel for most of my life. It's hard to say why I even care, considering that I honestly think they are sort of assholes, in general.

You see, after my father's incarceration (the final consummation of his well-earned position as the black sheep of the Calderoni clan), it just seems as though we were always the familia non grata of that entire branch of the family tree.

Granted, my cousins were older, but that isn't really the issue at all. My uncles all took on the name "Calderoni" after their father's death. I don't know what reason they would give, if you were to ask them outright they would probably say it was their way of honoring their mother by taking on her maiden name.

But the truth is, that in their social-climbing quest, I don't think they wanted to be saddled with the low-class connotations and stigma of being "Hernandez's".

Nor did they want they want their scrappy younger brother and his rag-tag kids around. We didn't dress right. Mom and Dad weren't rich, didn't drive nice cars and live in extravagant homes full of fancy things. And we didn't get sports cars for graduation.

So, we were invited on odd occasions to visit, like on Christmas, after all their friends had left. We could come in then, like servants- eating whatever leavings remained. I distinctly remember as a child having one of my uncles ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be an artist.

And he looked me straight in the eye and said,

"Why would you want to waste your brain on art?"

Years of this sort of thing have pretty much left me impartial to that entire side of the family. The scars go deep, the feelings of worthlessness those people have embedded in my psyche over the years.

So, every time my father implies that I should go visit with them, I freeze up. Nothing sounds less enjoyable than that, seriously.

I'm fortunate to have a family on Mom's side that is wonderful, warm, genuine, and loving. I'm blessed with a family of friends that make me feel at home in the world.

But yeah, I'm always very frustrated by my father's wounded response when I tell him that I am not interested in visiting with these people.

I'm almost 30. If we were going to have a connection beyond our bloodline, I suspect it would have happened by now. And anyhow, I doubt very seriously that I will ever be in a business that makes enough money to impress them.

So why even bother? Life is terribly short, you know?


Sarah13 said...

Thank you for allowing us a glimpse into this hidden part of your life. Much love sista!

ruminations said...

I think you may have been too harsh on your dear old Dad's
family. Surely your paternal grandma and great aunt must be proud of you. If Carlos isn't, I would be shocked and surprised.
Perhaps he remebers your earlier times when you really were a bit out of hand. That must be all behind you now and he will realize that.
I hope you are not cancelling your Texas trip.

Kathy Hernandez said...

While its true that we are all particularly sensitive when it comes to family matters, I think you are judging Carlos' family a bit harshly.
Lourdes called to make sure you were okay when there was flooding in your part of the country. Henry and Delfina always ask about you. We spoke to Carol yesterday and I've not had the oportunity of telling you yet, but she sends you lots of love and is proud of your ambition and your relentless pursuit of it.
I think that Carlos has managed to graduate from the black sheep to just the poor fella in the family. While they don't find much to be in awe about, they do love us and have shown it the best they can over the years.
And let it be known that they regard you with respect and admiration. I'm only sorry we haven't been around them enough for them to have the oportunity of telling you how they feel.