My maternal grandmother, Bueli, was a very sweet and loving woman, she was the only girl in a family of six children that lived in Mexico City during the early 1900's and through the difficult times of the "Revolucion" war (civil war).
Her family was one of those old fashion families in which children should be seen but not heard and, though she was able to break this pattern of child rearing, the rest of her brothers, except for Uncle P (the youngest one) grew up into bitter men that had difficulty accepting the changes of society and life. They turned up into four odd men that never left the family home where they lived with my great grandfather until his passing.
Bueli and Uncle P were the only ones that got married and had children; the other four brothers never married because they "could not find a woman that could measure up to their mother" (my great grandmother).
When my Bueli was pregnant and her belly began to show, her mother would ask her not to visit her place in order to avoid giving her brothers a "bad example".
But family is always going to be family and my Bueli taught her children to respect and love their uncles and, when the time came, the same attitude was expected from her children's children.
I remember how terrible it was to visit my great grandfather and uncles when I was a child! Before leaving the house and all the way to their place my mother would tell her four children all the things that we kids were not allowed to do: play, laugh, run, ask questions, stuff our mouths with cookies, interrupt a conversation, touch anything... And many other things that we should do: seat still, ask for permission to use the toilet, be quiet...
Fortunately, and since social life wasn't a priority for my uncles, those visits were scarce and not to often reciprocated... I have no fun memories of those visits to my uncles' house. As my siblings and I grew up, it became easier to find reasons or excuses for not going to visit our aging uncles.
Time went by, my Bueli was the first one of her siblings to passed away and a couple of years later one of her brothers, Uncle Ru, died too. Since his death was somehow unexpected, I couldn't attend his wake due to my job.
That day I got home late and had to spend the night alone because the rest of my family was at the funeral home. I went to bed and turned off the lights but couldn't fall asleep and began turning and rolling under the blankets and positioned my body facing the wall. After a while I began feeling uncomfortable in my bed. I could feel the weight of someone's eyes over my back and a sense of disappointment and reproach flowing towards me. I knew it was my Uncle Ru scolding me for not going to his vigil.
I wanted to get up from my bed and run out of my room, but was afraid of the possibility to see my uncle's spirit standing in the middle of my room and opted to feign a deep sleep, while taking to him in my head apologizing and explaining to him the reason why I hadn't gone to the funeral home. After a brief moment that felt like an eternity, the feeling of not been alone subsided and I was able to fall asleep. The next day I went to my uncle's funeral.
After that experience I think that my uncle's lack of feelings was only an appearance but deep in his heart there was a need to show and to receive affection; I wonder if sometime he tried to give love only to be told that a man shouldn't love.
I know that my uncles were not bad men, they were only four odd men to whom the simplest joys of life were denied.
Thanks for reading my story.