April 18, 2008

Malignant Growths

On March 20, 2008 I learned that my uncle has a large, malignant growth on his leg, and "fifty to sixty nodues on his lungs, that are probably malignant."

My first thought was "I wonder what 'nodue' means."

My uncle is a retired junior high school teacher in the L.A. public school system who referred to his students as "niggers," "spics," and "beaners." At home he was a violent alcoholic whose wife protected him with scorn and derision for anyone who came near, presumably because she feared their criticism. One Thanksgiving he punched me and my cousin, about 7 and 10 years old, in the head. Rapid fire, "bam bam," all at once, without spilling a drop of bourbon. More than 20 years later I can recall the dull pain in my jaw and hear the ice tinkling in his glass.

My cousin once innocently asked me why I feel bad about his father (my uncle) when he did "the best he could for his nieces" whose "real father was such a screw up." (Yes, that's my Dad he's talking about, who cared about what happened to me, who never laid a hand on me except with love, who paid my freshman tuition, who gave me a safe place to live in high school, who fixed up my series of old cars with his own hands free of charge, who gave me difficult books to read, who taught me to cook, who cared about what I thought and felt, and who told me never to settle for less than I deserved.) When I reminded my cousin of what happened that year at Thanksgiving he grew numb and said he doesn't remember. He wasn't defensive, he just faded away; changed the subject. He doesn't remember ANY of the beatings he received from his father while my mother and her sister stood greedily by, enjoying my cousin's fear and shame.

There was a time when the news about my uncle would have filled me with guilt and angry glee. But I don't feel glee. Just relief. And I don't feel guilty anymore when saying the world is simply better off without some people. Especially those whose only goal in life is to abuse others. I'm not advocating for the death penalty, I'm just suggesting that, if you truly love people, maybe feeling joy when their tormentors are dead is simply . . . normal.

I'm not sure what I feel about this news. It's a lot like having a malignant growth removed.

5 comments:

Yvonne Montgomery said...

Big hug heading your way. (I've got some extras after my visit to NJ.)

The Immoral Matriarch said...

It is normal.
Unless we're both psychopathic.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'd have to agree. The world is better off with some and without others. The problem is that we don't get to decide who stays and who goes.

Well, when I'm Dictator for Life...!

Cindy said...

I felt the same way when my abusive father-in-law passed away--relief that the ordeal of dealing with him was over. And that my MIL could live the last years of her life in peace. A couple of years have passed, and I feel the same. The world is a better place.

Red Flashlight said...

Thank you, Yvonne and Matriarch and Hatchet and Cindy! Blessings and love back to you.