"Things are bad now I am going to make them good."
The Van Man read over that line and his body siezed. It was a Mother's Day card given to his Grandmother, from his Uncle. A sweet gesture by a son. A reassurance to his mother. The handwriting was poor, but legible. The grammar and punctuation, terrible.
"Dont give up on me. you are the only one who love me. My kids love me, But I dont get to see them."
His Uncle had an undiagnosed learning disorder. Nineteen Sixties Alabama, poor working class conditions. A diagnosis like that was shameful and disregarded as mental diffeciency. He might as well have been a retard. So, his Uncle was on his own. And he was determined to change his path, teaching himself to read and write when others did not give a shit. Or, probably, had their own hells to deal with.
"I dont know what I would do if I did not have you as my mama. My ex-wife told me she would love me all my life, But you have always love me."
Van Man's Uncle developed a relationship with a woman that he thought was going to bring him the ultimate happiness. Children. His own, which he could shower with love. But it was at a price. Van Man watched his Uncle succumb to a crazy person's will over a decade. She broke her water a few times and broke his hope into a million pieces.
"I stay in my room not because I dont love you. I stay in my room I feel very bad."
Depression was not a word uttered in many Southern homes. It was too weak a concept. And Southerners had a pride about them, even though they did not have much to be proud of. Van Man did not see much of that abstract notion left in his Uncle, during those last years.
"I will get some Job and things will get to be good. I will make some money and go and get my Kids and have them here for as long as they can stay."
His Uncle always had a plan, he was forever dreaming. And, gradually, they became pipe dreams, one after another. Until, there was no more dreaming. The last time Van Man saw his Uncle, hope had left for good. And his Uncle constructed one more plan: to kill himself. He expressed his desire to Van Man one December day. A simple explanation. He hated his life.
"My Kids love you. My exwife love you, and would say so at one time you are my Mama and I love you"
Van Man noticed the absense of a period at then end of that last line. No punctuation at all, as if his Uncle did not want to stop telling his mother how much love he had left to give.
Van Man closed the card and put it away. Back in a box, along with old photographs, under a bed. Too much for a Sunday morning. Van Man looked at his reflection in a mirror. Birmingham was a prison that he had once escaped. Staying any longer than required was a death sentence. There was much to be done and he had a plan. Oh yes, The Van Man always had a plan. And he had his van, man.