hen cadona sent an email in reply. Something to the effect that I had relatives in and around that area. Well yeah. I’m sure I do. But they live out beyond the suburbs. 60 - 80 - 100 miles from Chicago. While I was thinking about a reply, a story about one of my cousin’s popped in from my Random Access Memory:
There are various cousin's, second cousins (and beyond) that live between Chi-Town and Ottawa, IL. (This is where my grandparents lived and died. It was also the only real base I could call home. Now that they are both gone and the property has been sold there is no reason for me to go there.
ttawa is a small town in Illinois that sits at the confluence of the Fox and Illinois rivers. Nice picturesque town.) Only time I've really spoken with most of them is before or after funerals I've attended in Ottawa at this point.
They are (or were) all (mostly) good, honest God Fearing folk. They are all from Scandinavian farmers stock after all. Been my experience they are a lot like other people that live in small towns throughout America. Conservative politically. A lot are deeply religious. (note I did not say spiritual, although it is possible) A lot of NeoCons.
A sort of Random Story:
ne of the cousins, Marty, had lived in Marseilles (not far from Ottawa) with his parents and his brother Larry. (I knew all these people well. Larry is about the same age as I am. If he is still alive. Marty was a few years younger) I used to spend quite a bit of time with Marty’s family.
Marty was adopted, after it was discovered his Mom could have no more children. Aunt Lil was one of those people that had "The Look". She could scare the CRAP outta ya with it. You could tell she would brook no nonsense when she burned though you with it.
I think that's where "I" learned it from.
She could be somewhat overbearing. Honorable and good. But... Very stern and strict. Uncle Larry was a fine honest man. Salesman of some sort. But Lil doted on Marty. Cousin Larry was a lot like his Dad.
Like a lot of families of that time there was no “Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child” business going on. You did wrong, you got walloped for it. Larry and Marty were beaten (like the rest of us) when they got caught doing something stupid.
By this point in time Larry had moved out, got married and started a family fairly young. Last I heard (A LONG time ago) he was working for one of the power co-ops up there. Marty was still living at home at this time.
hen Marty was between the age of 17 - 20 (cannot remember) he came out to his parents. His Dad happened to be standing on a ladder doing something to one of the light fixtures in the ceiling. Don't know why Marty picked this particular moment in time to tell his parents.
But Uncle Larry got so upset (there was a lot of yelling and screaming back and forth between the three parties) that he managed to fall off the damned ladder and BROKE HIS NECK. He died nearly instantly.
And Aunt Lil blamed Marty for his Dad's death. She utterly rejected his entreaties, and threw his ass out withiin a few days. He wasn’t even allowed to attend his dad’s funeral. She also could not accept the fact he was gay.
s far as I know they never spoke again. Marty tried repeatedly to no avail. He was completely cut off from his former life and family. I have no idea what his brother thought of this. But I think I heard Marty lived with him and his family for a short time after he was kicked out.
He eventually went to a University somewhere in Illinois and studied acting for a while. Unfortunately as is the case sometimes, life got to be overwhelming for him and he committed suicide while in his 20's.
The last time I spoke to Lil at Shirley's (another aunt) funeral she told me a lot of this. Cousin Larry did not attend. He was off in the southern part of the state on business. I believe Marty was still alive at that time. Lil was adamant that she would never speak with him or of him either. She only did with me because I had been out of the loop and I had asked after her boys.
I was fairly close to these guys at one point. I felt kinda guilty about opening that (her) wound up. She looked and sounded so unhappy. And tired. And still very angry. This was a long time after the fact.
And she still had "The Look" too. I kinda pushed her on the Marty situation, but she was unmoved. And that was the last time she burned through me with "The Look".
I know none of that was his fault. He didn't have a mean or vindictive bone in his body. His relatives sure did though.
Then I heard at one point or another from another cousin or something that Marty had done himself in. I don't remember how. Just that it wasn't pretty. Such a waste.
I still think of him occasionally. I always see him as being 5 or 6 years old. And tagging along with Larry and I as we tried to find some trouble to get into. Or sitting on his Mom's lap. He was such a happy little bugger. Smart too.
Yeah, I think of him and his family sometimes. And think what a damned waste that was.
There is a lot of this kind of shit on my Mom's side of the family. Might be why I don't communicate with or talk about any of them much. Even though Mom was born in that same time period, she never did infuse us with that mid-western bullshit attitude.
I could not even begin to tell you where most of my Illinois relatives are.
think one of the reasons Mom married Dad (besides the whole love thing, of course) was to get the hell away from most of them. Don’t know for sure though because I never got a chance to ask her.
But yeah, I don’t talk about my relatives much...