In order not to piss members of my family off, to say I came from a “distracted” family unit would be kind. I have used other words to describe the conglomeration of people who share much of my DNA, most of which are definitely unflattering.
I am borne of a cast of misfits; of rebels; of layabouts; of religious zealots; of alcoholics; of semi-professional hobos; of schizophrenics. Likewise, I am borne of artists; of prodigies; of spiritualists; of analysts; of carpenters; of farmers. My genealogy contains Civil War Confederates and Yankees. There’s a poetic Texas Ranger in the midst back when the only way to scout the border was with a six-gun, a Winchester, and a fat brown horse. I am related, probably, to the infamous Dalton Gang of Kansas – the ragamuffin brigands who rode with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and who once robbed two banks in one day. There are a number of Daltons in my pedigree, all of which haunted and dwelled within the same locales. I have discovered I have more than a few Brashiers in the mix, the greatest of whom minted high-content gold doubloons for their own use before banks were common. Treasure hunters delight in both branches of the family tree.
There are rumors that one of my descendants on my mother’s side was an illegitimate daughter of Queen Victoria, a certain “Vickie” born of a palace guard (as the legend goes) and whom was spirited to Kentucky in years long ago. I know for a fact I am related to Grant Foreman, the Cherokee leader who rebelled against government authority and was killed by General Stand Waite in Oklahoma sometime after the Civil War. There is a strong dose of Cherokee blood in my veins. My grandfather (whom is rumored to have robbed a few banks himself back in the 60s) was a half-breed or so, having been born in Oklahoma and having many relatives thereabouts. He grew up penniless, once worked as a carpenter in Gallup, New Mexico in days long before I was born; he won the Arizona State Lottery back in the 1990s, as the culmination of his life. The money vanished to scheming relatives and possibly televangelists, and then, as a chaser, he lost his mind. Lost it and we’re not talking lala land. We’re talking gone went the wind until the demons that possessed him came a’calling more than a decade ago.
My maternal grandmother was a very interesting woman. She came out of a hearty line of soapbox preachers, some of which were prominent figures in the Assembly of Christ Church, having a father who once “faith-healed” on street corners during the Great Depression and whom made quite a lot of cash. My grandmother, as the story goes, broke faith with him and that side of the family to become a Catholic and denounced the protestants. She was a pioneer in her way. She was also a talented singer, but stage fright and her own personal demons forced her to substance abuse until she was committed to the State of Arizona’s psychiatric services department and diagnosed as a schizophrenic. She died lonely and confused, and what a very sad tale for someone of such promising and wonderful caliber.
There is a whisper that my mother’s brother, a career-criminal who smuggled weapons and drugs out of Mexico, who wore bandoliers and shotguns, held an IQ about 200, had once been admitted to Harvard at the tender age of 15 or 16. He was found dead in a rundown El Paso motel some years ago, the victim of his products and vengeful cartel hitmen. It seemed that despite much of the familial disquiet of misfortune, my relatives held highly explosive lives one way or another. Certainly, one would say, to provide enough prose-fodder for a struggling author.
Of my father there is little to know. He was a Demarco, a D’Angelo, a DeMars. He worked in Hollywood and Burbank, seeking a career among the stars, but whether he achieved his aim, I don’t know. He was older when he and my mother met and conceived me; she being 19 and he close about 30 or more. After a haphazard barrage of a message here and there, I barely knew him. We shared a few things in common, of which I’m sure. He too had placed his mark in the US Navy but, by his admission, had been discharged because of drug peddling. My grandmother would make such stories up about him, how my father was the Don of a mafia family, and how his ancestors – the Demarcos – had once been guardians of the Pope. Only through steady reasoning could I only ascertain that he was one of those nondescripts of Hollywood, trying to make it big. He ignored his offspring, which is certain; I have half-brothers and sisters I know nothing about.
My mother, a wild and wayward girl from Arizona, grew up in haphazard digs of her own. A tomboy, a reckless yet innocent wayfarer who tramped all about the Union, she had held a myriad of jobs and semi-careers. For most of it, she had to raise four children on her own. She is intrepid, to say the least, and perhaps she would bring to the table many other considerations of what she feels she is and what she’s accomplished or not. Despite many others in my family, she has kept at least some semblance of sanity; yet, even so, mental issues inhabit a much broader gray area that we would like to admit. Perhaps in our way, we are all insane. The only thing that keeps us existing from day to day is the fact we are too afraid to take our own lives. Yet, as she is still living, I keep the book vague about her. It will be interesting to see what the final sum of her existence will be, and the great impact she has had upon her family. She is a psychic, an astrologer; she will tell you your life’s path only having met you four minutes ago. She can be a frightening woman.
There can be said for having a family that is disaffected, that is nonconformist, that is hard to catalog within the scope of what the average American can term as “normal.” Many of these people led extraordinary lives in one way or another. We can consider that they provide a certain strength, as a wild but hearty group of weeds that cannot and will not be blown away by the storms of mere living. That we somehow exist and are indeed, abundant. Yes, at least, abundant. There are great families of wealth and stability, of names, of places; and yet many of which fall by the wayside and end themselves in a flurry of adversity. A curious strength that my family is such that is not average; we did not birth captains of industry; scientists; politicians; that most, though shouting in the great void of existence, still somehow endured when many dreams failed. To say any of my ancestors held no dreams would be a lie. We are, in our very existence, a dream.