Family PortraitMature

"I don't want love to destroy me

like it has done my family." - "Family Portrait", Pink

We have an interesting cast of characters in this here story. On my mother's side of the family are a lot of creative types with problems with depression and suicidal tendencies. They really weren't good with boundaries, especially the sexual ones.

My grandpa Johnny (my mother's father) died the year before I was born. My grandma Juju (my mother's mother, she picked that name, not us) dove immediately into a deep depression. Grandpa Johnny was cremated, and Grandma Juju would sift through the ashes, banging her head against the wall, over and over again. I'm not even sure if they were married at the time. They married and divorced and remarried, and maybe they divorced again.

Grandma Juju was always like a teenager, especially since she had my mother at 16. She didn't use drugs or alcohol responsibly before, but when Grandpa Johnny died she drank heavily. In my lifetime she got at least 3 DUIs and had her license suspended for a few months.

Professionals did not help my grandma Juju. They made her worse. They prescribed her psychiatric drugs without sufficient talk therapy first, and she became addicted to those drugs. She dumped her psychiatrists and such when they didn't do what she wanted - which was give her more drugs. She keeps a giant brown bag in her kitchen with all her drugs. If I wanted to get high, all I would have to do is call her up and ask her for some Valium... but then I would have to deal with her.

Grandma Juju has been suicidal all my life. But the way she attempts suicide is by taking a lot of pills, and then calling people up, and telling them what she's done, so that someone will call the paramedics. Then she gets her stomach pumped.

Rick's biological father (James Patrick Tillery, Sr.) died when he was a child. He idolized his father, it seems, who was a member of the KKK. "Pat" (Rick's Father), died when his tire was shot out and his truck flipped over. I don't know much more about him besides that, and I don't want to ask.

Rick's mother, my Grandmama Jo, was one of many Alabama girls who grew up in a large family on a farm. She cooks amazing corn bread and chicken pot pie. When Pat died, she entered a deep depression, and was institutionalized and had to receive shock therapy.

Rick probably felt both his parents abandoned him as a child.

When Grandmama Jo got better, she married my Granddaddy Bill. I really love him. He's always been so nice to me, and some of my fondest memories are of him chewing tobacco, watching cartoons with me.

Now let me tell you about John's family.

They're Southern Baptists. This is really funny because Grandma Martha and Grandpa Charlie were Southern Baptists in the 50s, when the Southern Baptists were really against dancing, and Grandpa Charlie refused to be a good little Baptist and tear up his dance card. They were like the plot of Grease - my Grandma Martha was all upper-class and prim and proper, and my Grandpa Charlie rode a motorcycle and wore a leather jacket.

Grandpa Charlie was in the military for a while, and when he got out, they paid for him to go to dental school. He started a practice of his own, and he was still practicing when I was a kid. I've never had a better dentist. He knew how to talk to kids and he didn't suggest any unnessecary procedures.

Grandpa Charlie  passed away a few years ago. It's one of the few times I've seen my dad John cry. Now my dad keeps giving these speeches about how much he loves me, I think in case he ever dies, like maybe he thinks I don't know. But I do know. I know because he's always been there for my mom, my brother, and me. That's all he needs to do, really.

Grandma Martha might have Alzheimer's, and she's never really "got" us, and my dad John has always been the black sheep in their family, but she actually sent my brother the perfect, really sweet birthday card this year. Normally she's into mean humor cards instead.

The End

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