Sunday, December 11, 2016

Autism Answer: When Our Uncles And Their Stories Are Murdered

My Uncle Henry

My adopted uncle was murdered before he could teach me much about his culture. So now he's dead and I don't know. That's how it happens. #Indiginous
 
Thinking of my Uncle Henry a lot lately.

My mom was his biggest champion, inviting him to live with us when he'd been kicked out of everywhere, fighting with everyone to see him, to love him, and to listen to him. My uncle was understandably lost, alone, conflicted, afraid to be himself and afraid not to be himself. My sister and I loved it when he sat on our living room floor to make bannock but we weren't ever entirely comfortable around him. Too many people looked at him wrong. Plus, my mom loved him fiercely because she had to. She couldn't just relax and love him because loving my Native American uncle meant fighting for him. So we loved him too, but with a feeling of responsibility we didn't understand.  
 
I felt conflicted. As a niece who was interested in her mysterious uncle, I wanted her to keep him alive and to tell me more. But as a selfish little girl, I wanted her to stop fighting for him now, to let him go, to just watch me and my sister sing and play.
Mom didn't spend much time on what was wanted and instead focussed on what had to be done. She fought on. She gathered more people to care for; diversity of culture and abilities surrounded us. My siblings are from all kinds of cultural backgrounds (Native American, Irish, Japanese) and neurodiversity was the name of our game (autism, Tourette's, genius, retardation) while layers of abuse were all of ours to help peel away. 

My sister and I learned how to love fiercely, too.

And we also learned how to love comfortably.


I think we're always evolving with this issue and I think we do it well. Love, listen, learn, connect, support, teach, ask, tell. Don't fight so much as be and show and love. But don't back down or run away either. Clashes will happen. Loving people who are abused by groups of people means stepping up and standing strong. It means, sometimes, fighting for them.

My adopted uncle was murdered before he could teach me much about his culture. So now he's dead and I don't know. But I can try to learn.

And I do.
I love you, mom.
I love you, Uncle Henry.
I love you, messy messed up world.
I love you.


Hugs, smiles, and love!!
Autism Answers with Tsara Shelton (Facebook)

Me with a book that tells a tale of Canada's uncomfortable history with Indigenous people.