Jan 28, 2008


My cousin was stabbed to death last week. In most families this would be a fairly significant event. What makes this slightly different is that I barely have any memory of my cousin. I probably couldn't even pick his picture as a kid out of a lineup.

There is a fairly large rift between my father and his brother. I'm not entirely sure what the cause of the rift is. I have a sneaking suspicion it has to do with how my father and his brother turned out. My dad spent most of his early years getting the hell out of Wales; where he grew up. This entailed fairly stereotypical hardships from someone of that generation. Selling coal by the side of the road after his dad died from black lung. Putting himself through college while holding a full time job. Actually managing the finances of his parents because they would spent the welfare check the day they received it. My mom has a similar story. His brother on the other hand stayed in Wales and had no significant ambitions. I don't think my dad could ever relate to that.

Everyone on my dad's side is a hard worker and had pretty lofty ambitions. Everyone on my dad's brother's side ended up on the dole, taking part time jobs, getting married young, and having kids way too young. And possibly some drug involvement. Basically the story of 50% of anyone growing up in Wales. A depressing dreadful place that I hated visiting. It was beautiful in one sense. Old castles, lots of undeveloped land, purple heather on the mountains. But the lack of opportunity and the sense of dread made the place unbearable to my father, my mother, and me when I visited as a small boy.

And so as I read the news reports on BBC it was almost like reading any other death you might read in the newspaper. Except his last name was the same my last name and his first name rings a distant bell in the graying memory of my life in England.

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