Those who know my family, know that none of us are not really ‘all there’. Just attempting to describe the various personalities would take a week! From the oldest to the youngest, we’re never short on personality.
One of the highlights of this Thanksgiving was my grandmother coming down to visit. We literally had to bribe her with $$ to get her to visit, b/c she hates the Maryland area. She feels that if she visits that she’ll be held hostage and won’t be allowed to ever go back to NJ, b/c of all of the worrying we do because she’s basically up there by herself now.
I can only take my grandmother in small doses. After a couple of hours, typically, I have to either leave the room she’s in or just tell her to shut-up. The woman will talk your ears off with her complaining, nit-picking and about all of her ailments. This year, she couldn’t stop talking about her close friend, Frank Lucas. Yeah, that Frank Lucas. Mr. American Gangster himself.
See, for the past 8 yrs, Frank Lucas has been my grandmother’s next door neighbor. For the longest, I’ve heard stories about the man in apt. 703 of her senior citizens building. Every time I would go & visit her, Mr. Frank (is what she’d call him) would be sitting in front of the building in his wheel chair smoking a cigar. I’d always politely wave at him or give him a hug. When I had my son with him, he’d give him a $5 bill or a stick of gum. He seemed nice enough to me. I guess I never realized how much of a ‘gangster’ he really was back then, b/c of his present condition after the suffered a stroke a few years back.
Anyways, my grandmother wouldn’t keep quiet about him. Frank this, Frank that. To make matters worst, she wouldn’t shut up during the movie that my mother brought over. Now this is where I introduce the “Amnesiac” aka my Uncle Vinnie. The reason I call him the “Amnesiac” is because about 3 yrs ago, my uncle suffered a brain seizure which in return created a domino effect on a few other medical issues he’s been dealing with, such as kidney failure (he got a new one a few months back) and a tumor on his brain that had to be removed. He’s somewhat fully recovered BUT his memory is shot. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “50 First Dates” with Drew Barrymore & Adam Sandler, he’s somewhat like her, but not as bad. Over the past year his memory has gotten alot better, but it’s still blotchy in some areas.
Anyways, my uncle back in his ‘hay-day’, dabbled in drugs. His drugs of choice were cocaine & heroin. Although growing up, it was supposed to be this huge secret, believe me, I was the nosey kid who knew everything. When I got older, I learned that my uncle was considered a functional addict (he’s been clean for about 15 yrs now). He worked in the medical field at a prominent hospital in NJ, was always receiving awards and praises in the newspapers, but what people outside of the family didn’t know was his ‘issue’.
As my uncle was sitting there watching the movie, bits and pieces of his mental puzzle were being put together. He started talking to my grandmother about the man he referred to as “Frank Lewis” (I don’t know how many times we had to correct him that night) Lucas not Lewis. Lucas not Lewis, was repeated about 10xs. He asked my grandmother if he knew him, and she looked at him like he was crazy. From what my grandmother tells us, my uncle knew the man and his brothers very well growing up in Newark during the 70’s. Frank Lucas’ brothers, “The Country Boys”, basically ran the heroin in Newark during that time, and my uncle back then was a HUGE buyer of their product. He says its what got him through medical school, but I doubt it b/c he was a crappy student.
In any event, it was definitely an interesting after dinner conversation with my Grandmother and my uncle. At one point I had to get up and excuse myself, b/c I couldn’t take any more of my uncle repeating questions after receiving answers to them 15 minutes before. It was hard trying not to laugh, although most of my family members were close to tears during some points in the evening.
The morals of this story? Say no to drugs. It’s ok to tell a grandmother to shut up sometimes and also, every ones family should have an amnesiac in it.