Mi Tío Neftalie

Mi tío is schizophrenic, that much I know. I find myself staring at him as he maneuvers his space on the street in La Antigua or tries to find a narrative to all the stimulus that is rushing past him, a stream that flows through the gray matter of his brain and the neuropathways that are so different from my brain. I think, somewhere inside me are his genes and that possibility. I watch him and he knows I’m watching him, so he plays, changes from one side of the street to the next and waves back at me while the cars pass between us. Like the petulant and bossy niece I have always been with him, I tell him to be serious because he could get hurt crossing the street that way. He covers his cigarette with most of the thin, stretched skin of his hand. “Don’t worry so much, you’ll see how the electromagnetic energy flows through your eyes and into your liver where you can breathe better. ” I tell him to stay put while I go to the bank and “¡Tío, deje de molestar!” He laughs. I smile as I half turn my back on him, he waves back again knowing I’m watching.

Since December a plot has been brewing in my head to get him on medication and then build him a home in Media Luna with a bike on his own small plot of land where he can plant his own coffee and bananas and roam the fincas in peace. Here’s what we found:

And here’s him riding his new bike on the fincas:

He’d have a small bed, a table to read his newspapers, a small tv, and his new glasses. I can then come and visit him, sleep on the hammock and drink coffee on the porch overlooking the endless rows of banana and palm trees while he sits on the stairs and sings old boleros with his cracking, croaking voice – the same voice and song his father would sing before he disappeared into the fincas and was never heard from again. Here’s one of those songs by Antonio Aguilar–Hace un año that the entire family convinced him to sing in Brad’s studio:

2 comments on “Mi Tío Neftalie”

  1. This is an incredible, human and inviting piece. It is an example for what compassion and love is all about – the sincere love of a family member. I personally really love his singing. It is coming from the heart. With hoy. With heart. With love. With memory. It is such a delightful post.

  2. What a beautiful piece. You must mean so much to your uncle. Thank goodness he has you! I can tell, however, he means as much to you.

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