Last night when I called home I got some surprising news. My uncle Tom had an accident and is, at least for now, paralyzed. His legs and hands are immobile, and he is unable to speak.
I don't know all the details around the accident--how it happened, if other were involved--but I'm trying to figure out what my emotions are around this.
On one hand, this sounds like my worst nightmare and my heart goes out to anyone experiencing something like this. On the other hand, I've always thought he was a hypocritical bastard.
He's been a raging alcoholic and abusive to my aunt for years. He is a huge Bible-thumper, and was known around town for passing out in his underwear in various front yards with a bottle in one hand and a Bible in the other.
When I was a kid, he would pick me up and hold me too close and rub my back and legs and say, "Does that feel good?" and I would squirm out of his arms and go hide. (I was already very familiar with men like him.) When I was in high school he looked at pictures of me marching in a Christmas parade in a little booty outfit and said wistfully, "My God, look at those legs..."
My family started hinting that I should come home. I really have no desire to visit him--I haven't seen him in nearly ten years. I'm not even sure that I would go in for his funeral. Maybe that sounds callous. I thought about sending a card, but I mostly find myself just wanting to tell my aunt, "I'm so sorry for everything that you've been through." I probably shouldn't say that right now.