My grandmother was a published poet at age 68. Her author bio read, "I have a large and colorful family. It's filled with chaos, excitement, drama, and rewards. I just write it down."
Nothing is more true in a large family. There are all sorts of characters. The way I explain my family to people in you are either at the top or down on the bottom. There is no middle ground. I take that back. Thanksgiving is the only place where someone who just got into Yale and someone who just got out of jail can eat together at the table of brotherhood.
When I was in middle school, my cousin flipped out. He was the oldest of my grandma's kid sister's kids. My family is large as I explained, so I would have to have a flow chart to even add clarity and that would probably still confuse you some. Max was going through a problem phase. He was 16, in love, and willing to go the distance for his bae. Max had some revolting nickname for her which escapes my mind, but it was something like Sugar Lips.
Max's parents wanted him to come home after a long day at the fair. The family had only one car, but Max had just learned to drive and wanted to stay and have fun with Sugar Lips. His parents explained it was near his curfew, but Max wanted to do what Max wanted to do. So as they were going home, Max insisted he and Sugar Lips could not be apart. His parents told him to call her tomorrow. On a long and lonesome dirt road, Max jumped out of the car as it was moving. He flew out, hit his head, and his mother was screaming. Her son was knocked unconscious.
Max was put on a life flight. They were not sure if he would make it. After 2 days in a coma, Max woke up. It appeared he had no brain damage. His memory was still good, but he lost some of his sense of taste. Either way, his parents were glad to have him alive.
Max went about his life. He was a hockey star, but seemed more aggressive. Max also excelled in math and science, but was more aggressive in class when he chose to show up. Before the head injury, Max's grades were lackluster at best. But after hitting his head they improved. However, as I explained he made a bad habit of yelling at his teachers. That's when he chose to deck one in the middle of class. As you could imagine, Max got expelled.
Max and Sugar Lips were stronger than ever. Her parents were not fond of Max as he had just been kicked out of school for punching a teacher. But for as strong as teenage love is, it is about as strong as something that is built on quicksand because as we know the plot line could quickly get a rewrite. Another young stag entered the fray. Yes, one who was currently going to school but grudgingly so. One who went to the same church as Sugar Lips. One who Sugar Lips's dad actually introduced her to. One who called her by her real name, whatever that was, and not Sugar Lips. As quickly as he rode in, Max was written into the pages of history in this young woman's life.
Well they say breaking up is hard to do.
Max was blowing up the phone of Sugar Lips. She was not picking up. He showed up at her door. Her father told him never to come around again. Max was not giving up. So being the well adjusted youngster he was with a head filled with amazing decisions, he followed her and her new boyfriend. Her new boyfriend felt this was creepy and broke up with her. Max had his Sugar Lips back.......or so he thought.
Apparently she was done. And so were her parents. So they got a restraining order against my cousin. But some call it legal action, Max called it playing hard to get.
In rural Pennsylvania, people own guns. You have to. The cops are far away and if you have a farm you need to protect your animals from predators. This was the case with my cousin's family. Most folks use the guns for those purposes, but not Max. He went to his parent's tool shed, took a rife, and headed over to the house of Sugar Lips. His proposal, they rekindle their love or else it was murder/suicide time.
When he came over, needless to say she freaked out. The gun sent her screaming. Max held her hostage for several hours as she was not allowed to call the cops. When her parents got home he held them hostage too. The police were finally called in some way. And when they came my cousin surrendered without incident. At that moment, he realized the relationship was over and Sugar Lips was gone forever.
Or so he thought.
Max went to jail and the toss up was if he was going to be charged as a juvenile or an adult. Of course his head injury was taken into account. Max also got several letters from Sugar Lips in jail wanting to possibly be friends someday. She didnt want to cut him out as she still cared about him. However, her parents were quick to stop this.
Needless to say my cousin made the news. My friends thought he was hot. Yes, at the end of it guys like my cousin get a babe and decent dudes dont. Max ended up being sentenced as a juvenile which relieved our entire family. Before he went away Max said to my grandmother, "You know, it's not going to be all that bad. I don't have to go to school. It's prison for kids."
Apparently it was going to be more than Max intended. In Pennsylvania, kids go to school 180 days. If you are an incarcerated juvenile, you have to go to school year around. Max was incredulous. Hey, it's prison for kids!
Max had some hard lessons while he was inside. In Pennsylvania, if you are an incarcerated juvenile, your parents have to pay to have you housed in the system. Max's parents decided to emancipate him. So in addition to sucking at the whole parenting thing, they were cheap. Instead of looking at the choices that got them to this point, his mother told the judge her son was "a bad seed and the product of a criminal gene."
His father insisted that it was "just teen love gone wrong and boys will be boys."
Max never had a chance in hell of being normal. My grandmother knew this. She also knew his craptacular family had turned their backs on him. So for his birthday and holidays, she sent him cards and presents. Because his family wanted to save money, this meant commissary was out of the question. Knowing Max had no one, she put money on his books. This wasn't about a head injury or a criminal gene or even teen love gone wrong. Max was lonely, heartbroken, and had no half normal adult to talk to.
He completed his sentence and got out. Max met a girl and got married. No, kidnapping and firearms were not a part of the proposal.
Now Max is married with a kid. He's a good dad working 2 jobs to support his daughter. Part time as a used car salesman and part time as a lab test subject. Max's dad brags that it's the best job his son's ever had, "So what my boy can't pee on his own and glows in the dark. He's rich!"
While he is quite the character, Max never forgot my grandmother's generosity. At her funeral he drove all the way from Ohio where he now lives to speak about how when he was incarcerated, my grandmother was the only one who remembered him when his own family wanted nothing to do with him.
Now I write the story. I have to. Or in the words of my grandmother's author bio, "I have a large and colorful family. It's filled with chaos, excitement, drama, and rewards. I just write it down."