Yesterday evening, thirty-plus family members joined us for dinner to celebrate a nephew's ninth birthday. I had a busy day, starting at 5 am when I lit the fire to smoke a couple of Boston butts for pulled pork. The smoking continued all day while I cleaned the back porch and driveway, set up tables and chairs, and helped Kathy who was busy making and decorating brownies instead of a birthday cake per the 9 year-old's request, baked beans, and taco salad. At 4 pm I lit another fire to grill some hotdogs. An older nephew cooked them while I pulled the pork. The pork had spent 10 hours in the smoker and another two in the oven at a slightly higher temperature. The guests must have liked the pork, we started with 16 pounds of raw meat and had only a few scraps at the end. It must have been the Head Country BBQ sauce.
The nephew is special and has a complicated history with our family. He's not a blood relation. About twenty years ago, Kathy's brother married briefly to the boy's grandmother. Previous to the marriage, the woman had had a daughter, the boy's mother. Both the grandmother and the daughter had drug problems. Kathy's brother's marriage failed. The grandmother later got her act together, went back to school and became a successful medical lab technician. The daughter married and had three children in between bouts with drugs. As they say, one thing led to another and when it was over, the three kids were in the custody of the paternal grandmother, and the daughter was in jail. When the daughter was released, she drifted back into the drug culture, got pregnant, and was incarcerated again. Meanwhile, Kathy's brother got back together with the grandmother, who as it turned out was dying from hepatitis C, not drug related, but contracted through a hospital accident while at work.
Are you with me so far? Good. Since the boy's father had zero interest in the kid, the grandmother accepted custody of her daughter's newly-born son to keep the boy from disappearing into the Department of Human Services foster kid program. The grandmother and Kathy's brother raised the kid. Actually, our whole family raised the kid, especially Kathy's sister, until his mother was released from jail. Since then, the boy's mother has had several bouts of jail-time, and the care of the kid has shifted back and forth between her and Kathy's sister and brother. There were many occasions where we feared for the safety and welfare of the boy. Several years ago, Kathy's sister had had enough and went to court to get permanent custody of the boy. Unfortunately, that's still an ongoing question, but now Kathy's sister has semi-permanent custody, and the boy's mother continues to have drug-related problems, repeated arrests, and it looks like she may be doing jail-time again. Kathy's sister has united the boy with his three siblings on his mother's side and three more on his father's side.
I think the boy is in a safe place. He has a large family.