“We don’t know where he is,” my aunt said about 7 years ago, and we still don’t know. She was talking about my Uncle Scott.
Here is how he vanished. Nearly deaf and with plenty of other issues piled on top, he grew up in and out of group homes. He could carve perfect tiny dogs out of wood and not recognize women he knew. One time he ran down the street to get away from my mom because he didn’t know who she was.
Eventually he became a ward of the state. Grandmother visited him on holidays. The last time I ever saw him was Christmas 1989–a month after my mom died and 3 months before grandmother would also be dead. The rest of the family decided those 3 months later not to tell him that his mother was dead. “He won’t notice,” they said. “He’ll forget she ever visited.”
A few years later my aunt called me to say that the yearly check she sent to my uncle’s group home had been returned. She sent the check as a gesture–a little money meant for a Christmas present or something. The check came back because the group home had closed.
No one could tell her where the residents had been sent. Out on the street? To another group home? Seems if you are a ward of the state and someone wants to find you, you have to give permission to the state to give out that information. Now, if you do not know someone is trying to find you or you can’t remember your family’s name, well, all the better to disappear.
If I were a character in a novel, I’d go to Florida and search for my uncle. I’d look group homes up and knock on their doors. Perhaps I’d come across a coverup and learn my uncle had been used in a terrible experiment that involved Jeb Bush and I’d end up on the run from the secret service.
Okay, no. If I were a character in a different novel, I’d go to Florida to search for my uncle, and I’d find him living on the streets of Tampa and I’d experience an epiphany about the frailty of family,a nd unable to save my uncle I’d devote my life to saving homeless people.
Or maybe if I were a character in a novel, I wouldn’t go to Florida to search for him, but he would come and find me. He’d knock on my door and wreck revenge on my husband and son because I’d failed to save him from the horrors of life on the streets.
Or he’d come here, find me, and save my life and teach me the value of family with his words of wisdom learned from the street.
In novels, the plot possibilities are endless. As a writer I can make anything happen on paper–have a happy ending and be a hero! This is a silly question but when you are out in the world living your real life, do you ever daydream that you’re a character in novel–your own or someone else’s? If you could jump into any book and become a character in its pages? What plot line would you jump into?