When my grandmother died, I learned
not only had I lost my family’s matriarch
but I had never been in the family group.
I discovered that I had been in a competition
with my aunt and uncle, though the rules
of engagement remain a secret.
We all wanted to be the most important,
I gather, and my second-highest income
was a threat to uncle’s number-one ranking.
So, though I was the oldest grandson
I was demoted from pall-bearer to spectator.
The photographic collage I’d prepared
with my young daughter
from photos we’d taken or restored
had been dissected and reassembled
with all the artistry of a black velvet Elvis.
Never mind that I’d been a photographer
for 35 years to that point.
I looked around, took in a breath,
and walked out of the family.
That was 2005, 17 years ago,
and I haven’t looked back.
My aunt and uncle died that day
though I am occasionally informed
as to their whereabouts.
I left alone, as my daughter couldn’t attend,
so I drove home, the 180 miles, alone,
except for Ryan Massaro,
calling himself Amos Lee,
He sang it on repeat, as it resonated
then and now.
I keep waiting for the colors to cease
fading, but they don’t.
My grandmother dies a lot, each time
I think of her, which is often.
I still hate my uncle.
Though he is dead.
I wish he’d stay that way.