Several years ago, when I was a child, for… a reason I can’t remember now. Maybe it was because of something as insignificant as seeing on TV a program that mentioned it, or perhaps one of my friends told me about it…
Anyway, on that occasion, I had the impulse to ask my grandparents about my birth.
Oh, and I did, of course, that I did. It was impossible for me to keep that doubt in my heart.
Although now, I don’t know what I expected to hear back then, I probably wanted some epic story full of action, adventure, comedy, betrayal, plot twists, and a beautiful romantic ending.
I was a child with a big imagination.
However, the story I received from them betrayed my expectations. Because although I was not bored listening to it, it was not something extravagant worthy of being presented in a Hollywood movie.
According to them, my birth occurred in the same city where we were having that conversation.
Brooksville Florida. The city where my maternal grandparents’ home resided, far away from my parents, who lived in another state.
It seems that my parents didn’t love me. That they stayed away from me so I wouldn’t bother them. But that was not the case.
It all started when my parents decided to visit my grandparents one last time before my birth, since, for reasons such as my mother’s health or the care they would give me as a baby, they would not be able to see them again for months or even a year.
They did it to prevent it before regretting it because, due to the conditions in which my grandparents were, nobody knew what could happen in all that time.
So, despite the danger that went with it and believing the medical studies that reported that there was still enough time left in the pregnancy, my parents traveled to Brooksville to see their family.
Fortunately, nothing happened along the way, and while that in some ways might have been an exciting story to hear, it also might have resulted in my death or that of my mother.
Thus, after telling me about my parents’ touching recklessness, my grandparents, as was to be expected of them, advised me that, as an adult, I should not act in such a crazy way, as luck will not always be on my side.
Later, after about ten minutes of dull but wise advice, they continued the story.
What followed next was something for which I didn’t need any detailed explanation. With just the brief descriptions my grandparents gave me, I could imagine the scenario as if I had been present that day.
After my parents arrived, my grandparents, who were surprised, happy, and worried, talked to them about everything, from scolding them for their actions to embarrassing conversations about their childhoods.
They talked about the same corny story I’ve heard countless times, how a couple of kids who were neighbors and childhood friends, over time, fell in love and ended up getting married, and then, together, traveled to another state for work where they gave birth to the fruit of their love.
Corny, really corny. But although at the time I felt embarrassed and a little disgusted to hear it, now, I feel a bit envious…
Either way, after they spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon in an amusing conversation, that pleasant atmosphere was broken by the arrival of my aunts and uncles who came back from work.
With their arrival, the atmosphere took a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn, going from a quiet place to one full of noise and partying, where both families celebrated the last month of my mom’s pregnancy.
Yes, both, since my parents were the only two oddballs who moved to another state. Instead, their siblings bought the neighboring houses, making much of the block owned by the two families.
So, what happened to my other grandparents? They, unfortunately, died long before I was born.
Anyway, over twenty people gathered in a single house, partying with music and even some embarrassing dancing… that’s a scene etched in my mind.
That was an event I witnessed on more than one or two occasions. For that reason, it is easy for me to imagine it.
I can almost see all of them, as they always did, divided into two gender groups.
I suppose the first was led by my drunken uncle Gerard, who, as he is so fond of doing, must have lit a barbecue to stuff it with meat, attracting all the other men, who, like apes, stood watching the fire burn while holding a cold beer in their hands, chattering, and shouting all sorts of nonsense.
How unfortunate. Because of my young age, I could never participate in that unforgotten ritual. I could only watch the adults from afar while I played with my cousins.
Well… as for the women, although my grandmother didn’t tell me much about what they did, I didn’t need to, for I knew there was no way my aunts Jade and Dina wouldn’t take advantage of the situation, to, along with the others, complain about their bosses at work or the noisy neighbor who liked to listen to loud music.
The image of my two aunts talking to each other in the spacious living room of my grandparents’ house, their faces red with anger and the veins in their foreheads standing up…
If all that happened as I imagined, then what my grandparents said was true. That day was indeed an entertaining one.
However, the laughter and fun came to a sudden end when the pains of childbirth came to my mother.
But even though I said that in such a dramatic way, the reality is that, as my grandparents told me that story, they were both fruitlessly holding back their laughter because, thanks to the fact that everything went well with the delivery, they could now laugh about it.
And I don’t blame them, as I would laugh too if I had seen my uncles and dad running all over the place like headless chickens.
They told me how the place fell into chaos from one moment to the next. Everyone was worried as they urgently needed someone to take my mom to the nearest hospital, but those who could drive were too drunk to do so.
In the end, ironically, it was that neighbor about whom my aunts complained so much, who, at the request of their husbands, took my mother and grandparents to the hospital in the middle of the night.
After hearing that, I finally understood why my aunts never brought trouble to his house. Everything they said remained empty threats with zero actions.
As an extra piece of information that I didn’t ask for, they also told me about how my name was decided, and that is that there was a fight among everyone to choose it because no one liked the name that my parents had thought of.
They mentioned that the conflict was even tenser than the childbirth itself, as they almost came to blows, but fortunately, they stopped in time.
Kyle Johnson Williams was the name everyone agreed on, and although my grandparents didn’t explain the reason for that choice, I didn’t bother to ask either.
At any rate, after my mother’s release from the hospital, the adults concluded it would be best for her to stay in the city for a while since the premature delivery had left her too weakened to make such a long trip.
In the meantime, despite his reluctance, my father returned home to continue his work.
After that… well, everything that happened resulted in me staying at my grandparents’ house…
Yes, it was a bit of an abrupt ending, but that’s where that day’s conversation ended, for at that point in the story, my grandmother, with the excuse that she had to leave to prepare dinner, left the place, meanwhile my grandfather, without even bothering to think about it too much, just mentioned that his favorite novel was about to start before leaving.
They really made no effort at all to hide their true intentions. However, at the time, I found nothing strange about their actions.
I was a mere child, for God’s sake! It was clear that the logic of adults was too much for me.
Besides, I wasn’t very interested in hearing more from them because, despite the distance, my relationship with my parents wasn’t poor to the contrary, they called me daily at night, and even once or twice a month, my mom visited me with various gifts like stuffed animals, figures, toy cars and all that kind of stuff.
I knew they loved me.
Of course, knowing that didn’t stop me from wanting to cry at night for their absence, but that was still for the same reason as before; I was a child, one who wept for anything… no, I didn’t because I didn’t like anyone to see me cry.
So, if I cried, I had to do it in private, hidden under my sheets, away from everyone’s sight.
Anyway, it wasn’t until a few years later that I found out why I was living with my grandparents, and I also understood why they didn’t want to talk about it anymore.
The death of my grandmother.
If I had to choose what was the most decisive turning point in my life, that would undoubtedly be it. Since if things had been different, the path I have traveled so far would not be the same.
Everything that happened on that occasion is something I prefer not to remember, but…
Well, I am ashamed to say that at first, I did not worry about her… no, of course, seeing her in a bad state hurt and saddened me, but… since I didn’t understand what death was, or rather, I didn’t know the weight of it for my family always kept me away from everything related to it, I didn’t think that my grandmother would be gone forever.
Then, when it happened, everything was so fast, so unreal.
Without going into details, I can only say I cried my eyes out for days. For the first time, for as long as I can remember, I ignored the looks of compassion people gave me when they saw me crying.
And the misfortunes did not stop there, for as time went by, a clear fissure was formed in the relationship between both families since, although my grandfather was still there, many times it was my grandmother who oversaw being the bridge between us.
But the storm climaxed when my parents decided it was time for me to move in with them.
I would have to move away for years or even forever from the family I had lived with since I was born, from my uncles, who were almost like my parents, from my cousins, whom I liked as if they were my siblings, from my school friends, and, mainly, from my old grandfather.
It was hard, it really was. Even now that I’m an adult, I objectively think that experience was too much for a little brat, as I was.
Again, as before, I cried a lot.
However, if there is one thing I am proud of, it is not having complained to my parents despite my pain and sadness, as they told me the real reason I did not live with them before.
My grandmother was that reason.
I must repeat it, my parents loved me as much as I loved them, and that was perfectly normal, for I was their only child, that son they had planned so much since they became teenage lovers. They wanted to have me by their side; they wanted it fervently, and they tried, but my grandmother stopped them.
Oh, she didn’t do that because she was a terrible person, or because she didn’t trust them; she did it for a much simpler and illogical reason.
She loved me so much despite the short time she spent with me. She didn’t even care that my appearance was just that of a little ball of fat that only defecates, eats, and cries.
So great was her affection that, amidst tears, pleas, and threats, she begged my parents to leave me in her care.
And my parents did not refuse her because, although they did not want to do it, they thought my grandmother did not have long to live.
Fulfilling that last request was worthwhile in their eyes because it would not be long before I would return to them.
But they were wrong.
My grandmother clung to life for nine long years. Years that my parents had to endure with their teeth and fists clenched.
Therefore, now that I have grown up, I understand why my dad stopped visiting me with my mom. It was not because of the cost of the trip, as they told me, he acted this way because he did not want to see my grandmother, for even though she was someone he had known since childhood and was very fond of, she was not his family, thus, taking away his son for so many years was enough for a bit hatred to be born in him.
In any case, when I heard how they talked about my deceased grandmother while smiling and hugging me, I got angry, but, for the third and last time I will repeat it, I was just a silly, naïve, and pure child.
Although I was angry with them when I saw how badly they spoke of the person once who cared for me and loved me so much… seeing my parents so happy for my company touched me.
I was angry, but I could not hate them; I could not claim anything from them. The affection I had for them, and my childish pride, held me back.
Well, my pride was at its peak thanks to the teachings of my grandfather, who told me that a man should act like a man without showing weakness to anyone.
So, with a smile on my face, I hugged them back. As I mentally prepared to unburden myself as I reached my future bed.