I keep imagining that my family is in a Giallo, a splatter film where some mysterious killer keeps taking us out one by one. We have existed at one time as robust individuals in a unified clan. We did family gatherings regularly, cheered one another to our various victories and showed up without fail to rally against enemies when that was necessary. Where did it all go?
A mysterious and invisible slasher has been in our midst for some time taking us down one by one. I have some theories about who the villain is in this real-life crime fiction, but first, let me tell you how each generation has colluded to make this happen.
Great Grandaddy Sam - The Hate Slasher
There are many vivid personalities in the generations that came before us. On my mother's side of the family, I am always slain by Julia, who married my great-great-grandfather, left him and had two children with her niece Josephine's husband. My great-great grandfather married her sister Mary in return. These people are great to talk about as potential Giallo villains, but their life choices are equally entertaining.
Great Grandaddy Sam, however, was different. He was an earnest worker and highly intelligent. He attended college for one semester before he was forced to come home and help his family on its farm. He married my great-grandmother Ella and had three children. He worked in a local mill, where he lost a leg after a production accident.
Perhaps my grandmother is the Giallo villain in this story as it relates to all of us. She does not talk about her parents often, but I am very connected to family history, and I always go in search of lost facts. I discovered, for example, that my great-grandfather Sam did not merely live a small-town existence with his wife and children.
He was a town leader, without the official title, mind you. He helped fight for decent living conditions for other people and was a chief organizer for the first school for African-American children in his town. My grandmother has never mentioned a word of this. She believes in keeping the past in the past.
As an inadvertent slasher, she robbed us of knowing the richness of our true heritage.
Family Boomers of this Italian Thriller-Horror Genre
The generation just below my grandmother, comprising her children and their spouses, might be the biggest crime fiction villains of all in our family. Each one of them seems to go through a period where they are not speaking to the family and manifesting more friction.
A few are still angry about things that happened in their childhoods, and it shows every time they walk into a room. We can all be in a room, catching up, heart to heart, generation to generation, and all of a sudden, a single word begins the splatter film. People return to their homes and vow not to attend another family gathering for years.
My generation watches and determines fairly quickly that we want no part of this. Our parents have taught us well how not to lose time with each other by holding grudges. As much as we love them and respect them for their individual wisdom, we have no desire to be like them emotionally.
The Gen X Slasher
And then there is us, Gen X, who somehow forgot to love ourselves and keep our eyes on a prize. It is like a Giallo family curse that prevents us from aiming for high-profile careers, finishing what we start, using our lives to make a distinctive mark on the world and continually progressing. Someone or something has killed our rise factor, and we seem to be okay with that.
We could blame our parents for this because that is easy. Their idiosyncrasies have shaped us, for sure, but at some point, you cannot blame your parents for your choices, even if they did not show you anything better or different. We are where we are because we are comfortable there. We have not learned to inspire ourselves to any higher lives.
We make everything in the world more important than family, including the latest trends, extended friends, and dead-end jobs. We delude ourselves into thinking that we have a hundred years to get it right. We do not.
Gen Y and Gen Z Giallo Heroes?
Our children and their children may hold the key to the only way to reverse our centuries-old family trends. They arrive with an intrinsic understanding of how everything in digital works. I am still not sure if this is a blessing or a curse if this protects or destroys them.
However, there is a slasher factor at work. Something stops us from being our best selves.
It is the splatter film that you can watch for generations without knowing that you are the primary culprit.