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Friday, July 5, 2013

The Other Side You May Not See...

A few days ago, I had a talk with one of my favorite people about something I had not ever discussed with anyone before.  Many years have gone by with the thoughts rolling around about my own identity with questions I have not been able to answer in any amount of certainty.  Sometimes you need a certain person around to bring those thoughts forward so you can finally understand them properly.  What do I mean?

Using the term "black sheep" is not something I practice because to me it sounds fairly negative and brash when you are talking about a human being.  Yet, in a way, I have sort of lived within the standard definition of the latter in a less-extreme manner concerning my family;  meaning I am very different from them, but I do not consider that to be bad, necessarily.
My mom as a teenager.  Pretty, huh?

I always grew up as physically different from most of my family and this has definitely defined more readily as the year have passed.  As a child I always had fair blonde hair and brightly-colored eyes, while both of my parents, sister, aunts, and uncles were of the black/brown hair and dark eye shades variety.  With this, I am sure the little blonde kid sort of stuck out a bit more when the family came together for holidays, but I never noticed back then.  Even today, I still fit that description and never grew out of my blonde hair and fair eyes as some children do. 

A great family is something I have always had and we all have a great relationship with each other.  We laugh and act goofy, talk about life and all of that as anyone in a strong relationship does and I would not change that in any way, for any reason.  But, I do not have very much in common with my family.  Luckily, this has never really been a form of clash in the way it happens between some families because our bond is very strong;  our interests are just fairly far apart.  

Giving just one example, when I was growing up, music was not all that common around me.  My dad plays guitar in the gospel style and taught me my first four chords, but he is also the type who can go for months on end without touching a guitar, but I cannot.  Music is one of those activities that is always evolving for me and creating it is an expression, even if nobody hears it other than myself.  Dad does not even listen to music when he drives, my mom listens to it more for ambiance from what I can tell, and my sister took piano for a few years but it ended up not being her cup of tea.  There is nothing wrong with them not identifying with music like me or having an appetite for it as I do, but somehow that is in my identity and not any of theirs; my two living uncles could just as well do without music existing for the most part.  After thinking about this whole idea for a while I have figured out that my thinking revolves around a more mechanical psyche with a need to know everything about, well, everything; and retain every bit of it.  When buying a product or participating in something, I absorb all I can about either of those scenarios inside and out, meaning I learn more literally than most and I believe that is where the differences stem from.  This is not saying I lack relational skills by any means, but my family is better at that as a whole than I am.  I take it as a fault, but do not think it makes me boring, just structured differently.  But, I think there was an exception at one point.

That is my uncle, Keith when he was younger, probably around ten years old.  
And this is me when I was younger:
Do you see it?  I do.

When I worked in the golf world, I would stop by to see my grandfather once each week or more until he passed away in 2008.  What most people do not know is just what type of conversations we had.  My grandfather was my biggest fan and never had anything harsh to say to me that I can remember.  He had his own scrutiny towards many other things in the world, but not me.  When his health began to decline, he would sometimes tell me about how much of my uncle he could see in me:  "Keith was always into art and stuff like you."  Pop never really said much about my uncle unless it was just he and I talking in his living room, but I learned how many parts of our personalities aligned through those conversations.  Years later, after talking to my mom a few times, I learned how often Keith held me and wanted to spend time with me when I was a baby.  A connection I will never remember, but one that does exist in my history.
One of Keith's paintings I hung outside my bedroom door.

Why did I make a photographic comparison of myself and Keith as children?  I never really knew him, because on November 5th, 1988, my uncle Keith passed away, four days after his twenty-fourth birthday.  I was a few months shy of my third birthday which is about as far back as my memory goes.  

Keith wrote journals that are in a box in this house which detail certain aspects of his life and so are the letters he was regularly writing to my great-grandmother.  I have read them. These chronicle him and who he was from the time he was somewhat carefree and reckless until he was hit with the disease that ultimately killed him.  There are aspects of his life that I share no common ground with, some decisions he made that I never would, certain traits and lifestyle aspects I cannot relate to, but I still have this fantasized idea about the uncle I never knew.  For reasons I am unable to back up with facts, I would like to think that he and I would be very close today had he lived to see it.  Something tells me that he would have taken the place of my biggest fan after my grandfather passed away, he would be a subscriber to my blog, or that we would send stupid text messages back and forth, talk about music, or simply talk in general.  This is a fantasy that lives on in my head from the stories I have been told, letters and journals I have read, pictures I have seen, and the little bits of his personality he left behind in his paintings.   
Within my own mind, I have lead myself to believe that Keith was someone I would have related to in many ways as I think our personalities were possibly similar.
He lives on as a memory I will never actually remember and maybe that is a good thing because I can identify with him as who I have read about and heard the good aspects of, without hearing of his faults or anything that would detract me from thinking I have a connection with a faulted, but overall great man.
Keith left a legacy behind him.
That is a big goal in my life as well...

Grace and Peace,



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