Monday, July 12, 2010

Family History is So Weird

A while ago, out of a sense of nostalgia and boredom, I watched one of my favorite movies from the 80s: Poltergeist, the freakiest, most unusual haunted house movie I've ever seen, about a psychic/clairvoyant little girl who gets sucked into the spirit world by evil spirits via a portal in her closet. Coincidentally, about 30 minutes later, I watched a rerun of Family Guy, and the episode happened to primarily be a parody of Poltergeist. So I'm in a bit of a "weird" mood at the moment. It has me thinking about the stranger aspects of my life, and my family history.

On the MBTI, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, a personality profile test, I am an INFJ. This means that I'm introverted and highly intuitive. We are also the most mystically-oriented personality type. It also means that I'm, in a nutshell, kind of weird and unorthodox in my thinking. If I remember right, it is estimated that only about 1% of the population, if even that, is INFJ. I do know that it is the most rare personality type. A Social Workers conference I went to back in February had a class on the personality types. The lecturer described INFJs as "woo-woo, really out there". The lecturer presented video clips of interviews of people with the various personality types. The INFJs talked a lot about being "in their head" alot, and feeling others' emotions. One commented on how he couldn't ride the subway, because he could feel the oppressions of the ancestors of those riding the subway with him and it overwhelmed him.

I'm sure my personality type has contributed to my interests and eventual metaphysical path. But that's not all. In hindsight, a lot of "strange" experiences in my life have led me in this direction.

My family has a long history, dating back to a 1770s Scottish sea captain who migrated here with his family(and some slaves, I think) to Wilkes County, North Carolina. Most of what I know is my mother's side of the family, thanks to that side having the most currently living relatives and a genealogy buff for a great-uncle. It is also because I am adopted in a stepparent adoption, and know next to nothing about my adoptive father's family, since he doesn't talk about it much, nor my biological father's family, since I have never met him. The family history is full of lies, conspiracy theories, murders, suicide, and superstition. For now, "superstition" is the focal point.

One of the most well-known aspects of my family history involves my grandmother, grandfather, and great-great-grandmother. Family lore has it that when she was 14, my grandmother, Emma, and some of her friends went to visit the town fortune teller. While the fortune teller told the fortunes of all of her friends, she refused to give my grandmother's fortune. A few years later, Emma met and fell in love with my grandfather, Lester. Lester happened to be the grandson of said fortune teller, known in our family as Grandma Knight. When she was 18, Emma and Lester gave birth to Brenda, my mom's sister. The pregnancy was out of wedlock, so they eloped(I think) to somewhere in South Carolina, where they married before returning to Union County, North Carolina. Throughout their short marriage, when they would visit Grandma Knight, she still refused to tell my grandmother's fortune. She would simply hold my aunt Brenda and silently cry.

Fast forward a couple of years, to June 1962. Brenda is around 2 years old, and my grandmother is 3 months away from giving birth to my mother, Jo. Lester, by then 22, is at a poker game. He's driving home in a rainstorm at 2:00am, when he hydroplanes off of a bridge. He is unable to get out of the car, and he drowns.  As I learned a couple of years ago, there's even a conspiracy theory behind this - apparently one of Lester's brothers, along with an unknown woman, are in the car with him, and survive. There are questions as to how they survived and he didn't, who the woman was,and why they were driving so fast in a rainstorm at that time of night. According to grandma Emma, my aunt woke up crying at precisely 2:00am. Later the next day they heard of Lester's death on the radio.

After Lester's death, purportedly Grandma Knight finally told my grandmother's fortune. She said that she foresaw the pain from Lester's death, and therefore refused to do readings for my grandmother. It was later said that she intended to "pass on" her psychic traits to my grandmother after she herself died. Apparently other people heard this as well, as after Grandma Knight's death, my grandmother began getting phone calls from guys asking if their wives were cheating on them, etc. Apparently it seems to be true, and even my conservative family believes so to an extent. For instance, when my uncle(my mom's younger half-brother) was in school, my grandma accompanied him on a school field trip to a local tourist attraction, the Biltmore House. My grandmother, although she had never been there, knew everything about the place and knew every exhibit the tour guide was about to point out. It freaked her out so much that she refuses to go back, even to this day.

They say sometimes that characteristics sometimes "skip a generation". As such, my mom has claimed significantly less supernatural or "psychic" experiences than my grandmother has. And then, I was born......


JeniMac said...

Does this mean you have psychic abilities?

Chadly said...

believe it or not, I'm actually kind of skeptical of a lot of 'psychic abilities'. However, I do believe at least some is possible, and that myself and my family do have at least a small affinity for it.

Angel said...

What a colorful family! Thanks for sharing.

I'm afraid that the only real craziness I can claim in my family is that my grandmother shot my grandfather in the ass with a shotgun when she caught him in bed with his mistress.

We still joke about "high strung Grandma Clara." We still can't figure out why she never went to jail.

Psychic traits are definitely passed down. We don't talk about it much but really just watch out for one another. It's difficult. I sympathize with the spookiness of it. In my family we may not talk about it much but when one of us mentions dreams or gut feelings we hone in on that person's words like it's the last thing we'll ever do on this earth.

Chadly said...

Colorful is a good way to put it. Imagine going to a family reunion and your grandma saying "see her? She accidentally shot and killed her husband fighting over a gun he was trying to sell for more liquor." My grandma's dad(or maybe grandpa, I'll have to look in my journal to clarify) went to prison for killing one of his sons, where he hanged himself. At least one of my grandma's uncles died in some kind of house fire that seemed to have a bit of mystery in it. It's weird.