INSENSITIVE TO SHAME
(Continuation of THE PERPETUAL GIFT Semanawak Part Two)
By Natalia Lucia Aguilar Gaona
"Hey, don't worry; don't be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride."
Our story does not end with death, nor do the departed souls ever leave, they will visit us in dreams or partake in ways we all know they are present. Natita, Ana and Tex learned to exercise their gift, they leave a legacy that lingers in the heart of every person who was fortunate to have met them. This token of appreciation, appears as a kind of divine intervention, an unexpected gift, a door that opens, an answer to someone in despair. As I mention Celia became a vector for Ana to meet Natita, Ana needed a loving family, Natita needed Ana’s company and support.
Twenty years later, I was neglected and denied my basic needs and Ana became an excellent surrogate mom and emotional support. In a similar way Tex, had lost his father to alcoholism and was awarded a pair of foster parents that fulfilled his needs. A triple gift was on the horizon for him; Tex hid the fact that his years in the Korean war had exposed him to agent orange one of the side effects was infertility, which ruined his first marriage: dishearten and leaving him childless. His second marriage to Caroline gave way to three surrogate sons as babysitter for my sister’s two children, she decided to finish high school and get a college degree and later as tutor to my eldest son, a distraught sixteen-year-old estranged from his cocaine addicted father. Tex stepped up to the plate, supported him just like his foster parents, when he was his age, identifying instantly with the feeling of shame, Tex drew from his experience and was able to truly care and be a paternal figure beyond anyone’s imagination, canceling the shame of his own misfortune. It was as if things had lined up to put these gifted people in our path, in the right place, at the right time.
Yet, we also find that those “shameless” hypocrites sometimes succeed at destroying the gift, almost instantly they seek to eliminate beautiful living beings, as if their graceful presence was a mortal threat. Despite their best effort to destroy those amazing relationships. Most of them find ways for us to be at their service, I am being generous here, I will call them by their real name “social leeches”. These leeches can fake all sorts of feelings, "pretend" weakness to pull at our empathic loving nature, Caroline tried to clip my wings many times, but I managed to escape. When Caroline brought Tex to Mexico City to meet her bothers in 1977, I went to pick them up from the airport with my boyfriend Joseph, who drove a 1958 Jaguar sedan. This was not his regular ride, because his brother took the other car, he showed up in the Jaguar.
By the time we made it to the apartment, Joseph confessed that the car belonged to his deceased father and that his mom needed to sell it. Despite my mom’s busy schedule she managed to meet with Joseph’s mom and offered to buy the jaguar right there and then. Tex couldn’t understand her sudden interest in that car, he kept telling her; "That car will have to be shipped by train, then we would have to rent a huge truck because of the foreign license plates, you need to do the paperwork and imported it before anyone can drive it around, raising the cost considerably, this is insane Caroline!" He continued saying: "Think just for a moment, Los Angeles is full of classic cars, you can find that Jaguar at a very good price". She totally ignored him and bought the car. It was never about anything with Caroline, her checkbook had bestowed the pointless power of greed on her, this sudden urge came from playing the role of the ultimate consumer, her shopping addiction; buy it at any price, anywhere, at any time or regret it.
Did she need to brag about the jaguar to her brothers? Or was she competing with her seventeen-year-old daughter? Caroline wished to be seen inside that particular car, and Joseph was put in charge of exporting the vehicle. Caroline never did the paperwork, nor drove the car, for thirty-seven years it sat slowly rotting in her garage and like everything she hoarded, the jaguar was stuffed with junk accumulated over years of purchasing items at swap meets and thrift stores.
Caroline’s insensitive behavior was endless, Tex did his best to compensate the victims of her shady investments, or pretending to be a gracious distributor when selling cosmetics retreated from a dumpster. I felt indebted to Tex, because he had been so patient and forgiving all those years my divisive mother. He also had taken my son under his wing, he provided fun adventures for him and my nephews; fishing or camping expeditions, weekends away from Caroline’s mean and stingy disposition. The first time I went to spend Christmas with them, he took me to meet his foster parents, excellent persons an elderly couple who were very happy to see him, I witnessed their kindness and the gift of love. Tex learned appreciation and was presented with an opportunity to help many forsaken souls. I, too was blessed with a new surrogate family but that’s a story for another time.
Twenty five years later he fell ill, after the first operation we were all very hopeful, then the cancer came back, I spent three months driving Tex and Caroline back and forth from the veteran’s hospital in Long Beach, until he was not allowed to leave because of his failing health, another month of commotion holding on to life with the help of medical attention was the last chance friends and family could come to see him, his eyes were opened but he was heavily medicated and thus unable to speak, he passed quietly.
My mom immediately after asked me to move in with her, stating she was afraid to live alone. I had been living in the South Bay area in a nice independent room, that I furnished that I also kept as an office. Pushing aside the fact that she abused, stole, and lied to her deceased husband, me and my sisters. I somehow managed to avoid colliding with all her manipulation, the chronic craziness of her inconsistencies, and steered away from judging my own feelings of discuss and disappointment towards her. Memories of her petty behavior like ghosts kept reappearing of the months he was ill; yet her horrid behavior never ceased. In my own emotional state, I was blinded by my own grief, I wanted to believe she felt vulnerable. But, the actual matter was indifference, Caroline never displayed any compassion towards my stepfather or anyone else. This situation was far from mourning Tex; no sorrow was shown when he died. I unknowingly became the new slave, as if those last six months of unconditional availability weren’t enough. Garnering the strength to alleviate the recent loss, in hindsight none of these sacrifices were necessary; it was a product of my own misconception.
I stumbled on the fact that she and like-minded persons "Elect" themselves to become equalizers or arbitrators of everyone’s destiny! I remember Caroline stating “How dare she (me or anyone) assume responsibility!”. For decades I had omitted the pettiness of these horrible persons and the advertising agencies I had worked for; spitting out slanderous statements, a web of lies so thick, that it would petrify anyone.
California became the back stabbing capital of the world, here the rotten were treated like royalty. Waiters and checkout clerks were young handsome wannabe starlets fake gold diggers, crafting the pointless culture their illogical reaction to a respectable (or truly gifted) person, they despise anything that reminds them of the lack of their own imagination and appreciation, hating the generosity of mindful beings.
The Jaguar was cursed with beauty, a thing created to be desired and possessed. Caroline decided to remove it from Joseph at any cost, we were never drive or enjoy it. In this cosmopolitan stage where so many people become alienated from the gift, and desperate victims of their own ambition, committing crimes and acting as if they have a starring role in a cosmic play; unable to see into the future of the pettiness of their actions, they are inoculated from feeling joy, prone to over thinking ways to compete while devaluing the gift of life.
If Tex would have been more of an intellectual type, he’d see the false narrative of “moral relativism” used by beneficiaries of the kleptocrats, feasting political fleas hiding in our mattress. The less people do, the less they understand, the more they depend on others, the more they pretend that nothing matters, they’ll claim; it was a joke, you have no sense of humor! Players in the pathetic game of professional mooching, an unforeseen by product of the industrial revolution, degenerate scammers engaged in senseless exhibitionism, willful ignorant and egotist leeches parading as if they were gifted. While the real caring people are ignored, tortured and dismissed.
The first thing that caught my attention when I moved in with Caroline was that she had removed her sister Ana pictures. How weird? I thought she cared about her, I was wrong, back when Ana had trouble breathing and in an effort to prolong her life, my uncle Paco invested their savings in purchasing land near Caroline’s beach house in Baja. I did ask Caroline what happened to Ana’s picture, did the glass break? No, she said; I can’t stand seeing her, so I put her away. Her response was so disturbing, but I pressed on to another subject related to my beloved aunt, did you give my uncle Paco the deed to the land my aunt bought twenty years ago? Uh no, she said; he told me to keep it. Again another false story, I knew my uncle had forgotten about the plot of land, worth over forty thousand dollars, after two years of her passing, Caroline quietly sold the land; I knew the real reason why Ana’s portrait was removed, I felt sorry for even asking, that money could help Paco in his old age, but Caroline thought she was entitled to it, just as she felt entitled to the jaguar. I was lured back into her web, after a lifetime forgiving her misdeeds, my immaculate behavior continued.
I was a good decent caring daughter, I gave away the contents of my mini home/office and innocently moved into her home. I took her out to shows, fairs and movies, unsuspecting of what she had in store for me. Yes, I harbored the monster, in an effort to keep my sanity I did my best to maintain boundaries, three months later she kicked me out.
First published March, 2021
(story continues in Semanawak Part Three)