You know very few things actually sneak up on you if you are paying close attention. In fact, I am absolutely certain that we already knew somewhere in our soul, the things that we pretend have surprised us. It is in this sense that I must say that I have always suspected that despite the charade that was often performed that I never really had much of an extended family in regards to affinity, closeness, and whatnot.
Now please do not get me wrong, those whom I share DNA with are seemingly close, however, for reasons that I will share going forward, I was never really invited into such moments. And the truth of the matter is that not only do I no longer care about being “brother outsider” to those who I thought were mandated to love, care, and consider me as I did for them, after repeated discussions regarding this topic with others in a similar position, I understand that I have much company in this most unfortunate club.
Before I move forward let me expound upon the common traits that I share with others who find themselves “brother outsider” among their supposed family. The individuals that I speak of are usually educated, highly successful, purposeful, moral, and lacking the impulse to do what can only be termed “nigga shit” that will severely set them back in the short-term or totally destroy their lives in the grand scheme of life.
Now I am certain that you are wondering what the impetus behind this posting is, well, I will tell you. It flows from an old photo featuring several members of my family that included me when I was merely a child. I, and other members of my family, immediately recognized those featured in the photo; however, I suspect that I am one of the few, if not the only one that could identify every family member in the photo.
To my horror, commentary turned from my Aunt Joan’s Afro, a look that I know was stylish during the mid-seventies when this photo was taken to who is that in the bottom row in the middle. I watched as several family members attempted to identify me, the first of my grandmother’s male grandchildren, the first nephew of my aunts Joan, Barbara, and Angie (all of whom were featured in the photo), the first male cousin of those who was bantering about who I was.
When I reflect upon it, the only thing worse than being forgotten by family members, an occasion that could be chalked up to an excusable mental hiccup is for them not to be able to identify you at all.
It is clear to me that this was no mental hiccup, rather the final nail in the coffin of something that I intuitively realized, definitive proof so to speak, that I was, am, and will always be discounted, ignored, and therefore disrespected by those that I have aided at a moment’s notice, prayed for, and encouraged at every turn in whatever endeavor that they have ever attempted.
Truthfully, the alluded to ostracism is a common theme among my friends who have emanated from what could be best termed ‘humble’ beginnings and tirelessly worked toward success while others around them spent their time enjoying what can only be termed the “good life”.
I would love to say that I am “surprised” that the descendants of Lorine Young, my beloved grandmother and the tie that binds my ‘family’ together, could not identify me; however, as previously mentioned that would be an untruth, I already knew my lack of importance to those that I share DNA with. Their lack of caring and consideration regarding me was clearly displayed when they did not appear at a single one of my five different graduations from The Ohio State University; keep in mind that I was the first person in my family to earn a college degree. If I missed the message sent on that one, my lack of importance was loudly reiterated when very few of them, except my cousin Lauren Evans, my aunts Angie and Barbara, and my father’s brother Gary, even called to wish me a speedy recovery or offer any words of encouragement after an allergic reaction led to an amputation. What makes this matter even more despicable is that I remember droves of these same people caravanning across the country on several occasions to visit family members who were incarcerated for one reason or another in penitentiaries.
It is for these reasons that I now publicly acknowledge to ‘my family’ that I understand my status in your life and understand why I have no importance to you. I have also decided that I will no longer participate in a relationship that I consider to be a perverse performance of ‘unrequited love’.
What makes this situation even sadder is that I have read on Facebook, the place where I get my information regarding your lives, that there is a desire to have a family reunion in the very near future. I will tell you that it is something that is desperately needed; however, I am already anticipating that I will not be informed about it, if for no other reason that if you cannot recognize me in a photo that there is no way that any part of your mental Rolodex will recall me when you are listing your family; after all, we really aren’t family are we?
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III