Thursday, December 07, 2006

Family Matters -- Part Deux

In my previous post, I mentioned the weird side of the family. Weird is not always a bad thing, I know, but in this case, the weird part is the hurtful part.

Two illustrations follow. I'm not sure which qualifies as the more screwed up, but I'm leaning pretty much 50/50 at this point.

Illustration number 1:

Tuesday afternoon, people were gathered at my Aunt's home, doing all sorts of things. My other Aunt, who lives about 80 miles away, and her older son came, one would think to pay their respects. Present were my Aunt, my Mother, and my brother, and some other friends of my Aunt's. Apparently, my cousin came to my Mom and out of the clear blue sky said: "I heard that so-and-so (who used to work with my Dad) said Uncle Robert (Dad) was lazy at work." Yes, you read that correctly. My father, his Uncle Robert, DIED in 1979. The person who said whatever it was that turned into this craziness also died many years ago. So, in other words, there was absolutely NOTHING TO BE GAINED by saying this to my Mother, MUCH LESS in the very home of our Aunt whose husband had JUST DIED RIGHT THERE and who considered my father her best friend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Illustration number 2:

My oldest cousin (now 60) was someone I used to adore and worship as a child. I thought she was the most beautiful, talented, creative, funny person I'd ever known, and I wanted to be like her so much! I babysat for her 3 children for quite some time when I was 12-13. At some point my Dad arranged for her to give me piano lessons, which I really, really wanted. But, like every beginning traditional piano lesson, the things they wanted to teach you to play were boring, and I saw absolutely no connection between what she tried to teach me and they kind of music I wanted to play, so that eventually fell by the wayside.

I learned yesterday that this cousin has written a book, and in this book she discusses family matters. In this book, she mentions a lot of people I'm familiar with, of course. My Dad was mentioned twice, both times either positively or neutrally -- no big deal. But there were other people she talked about that didn't receive such benign treatment. Like OUR Grandmother -- her mother's mother and Aunt Betty's mother. She talks about Grandmother not doing any thing for her, like having no memory of her reading to her or anything. That could have been because Grandmother was probably barely literate at best, and also because cousin's father, a raging alcoholic, wouldn't allow my Grandmother to visit them much, if at all. And he certainly didn't want his wife and kids going up to her house. So I'm thinking that didn't provide much opportunity for being read to.

She also talks about her sister and our half-aunt, who apparently lived with her family for a while. What she talks about is her own jealousy, though I'm pretty sure she didn't mean it to be so transparent. She complains that her sister, the youngest in the family, always got pretty clothes and everything she wanted. As to our half-aunt, she whines that when that half-aunt was staying with them, she could and did eat whatever she wanted, got whatever she wanted, etc., while Cousin was stuck with the dregs of her own upbringing. Yes, what hideous character flaws these girls exhibited by allowing their parents to treat them differently than Cousin was treated!

The crux of this book is supposed to that my Cousin is apparently the world's greatest Christian, and if she can be one, so can everyone else. She discusses her children's drug addictions and bad choices; she talks about other people's bad times; she talks about her father being a very mean drunk. She parades this information through this tiny little book as though it were some kind of badge of honor. It seems to me as if she's trying to make herself sound noble, and put upon, and somehow better than everyone else. This is a common theme in her family, I believe. The one sister she has is over this way, near Aunt Betty, while all the rest of her family live, I kid you not, in a kind of compound. Cousin and husband have a nice, normal house. Cousin's mom lives on the property in a mobile home, and raises chickens, in the back yard. This is a suburban area, I might add. Daughter and husband at least recently lived in a built-on apartment to Cousin's house. Oldest son has his own home, because he's married with a billion kids. Youngest son is married with no kids from this relationship. Apparently, he got a girl pregnant when they were about 20 and cut of all ties with their baby girl when the Mom married a man who wanted to adopt the baby.

Cousin puts these things, and many more, out there for all the world to see. I wonder what her kids think of that, and I wonder if she asked anyone's permission. Being a blogger who sometimes talks about real-life people and who values my own privacy, I am very, very sensitive to telling things I have no right to tell, so this really blows my mind. I don't get how someone has the nerve....

I think it may be hard to see some of these folks at the funeral Friday. I told my mother that, if I hear anything remotely like what male cousin said about my Dad, I will be having a retort. Count on it. Grown, supposedly Christian people should know better than to disparage a woman's late husband in the first place, especially if he's your UNCLE. But to compound this egregious behavior, saying such a thing right there in the home where a death had just occurred is absolutely and completely unacceptable. And you know, I just don't handle things like that quietly, for better or worse.

There is more to say about other things, but they will have to wait for another time. My emotions are full, and everything seems very tender. I wish I didn't cry so much. I wish I could sleep. I wish I didn't have a constant headache. I wish my baby was here. I wish I could explain to people how important it is to love each other, and to be kind to one another, or, at best, not to intentionally hurt other people, especially in families.

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.......


guinness girl said...

Oh my gosh, those relatives sound horrible! Hang in there, Wippy. I'm sending hugs.

Anonymous said...

Oh baby! I'm so sorry you have to deal with such crazy people in your family. I think my family has its share too. Sometimes it seems like we are hemmed in by craziness on both sides.

But we have established our own world, and those crazy people are not part of it. We have an intentional family of our own, populated by NON-CRAZY people who love us.

Anonymous said... can't live with 'em and you can't toss them all out the window! every family tree has an "odd" branch or two. my husband and i are trying hard to be the 'healthy' branch growing off of two very twisted trees! we have one son who is now 22, and I think we did ok pruning off the twisted stuff so the healthy parts could grow stronger.
be gentle with yourself. take care.

cathy said...

wip, reading this has made me mad at all these people for you.

How dare someone to be so rude to deliberately try and hurt your mother by telling her such a thing. You dad has been gone for almost 30 years and for someone to say that they need their head examined.

As for your cousin and her book. yeah, you are right on about her. I have noticed recently that when some people get religion then they automatically believe themself to be better than anyone else. This bothers me greatly. When you use any gift (such as writing) to hurt peeople then that is just wrong.

Thinking about you honey and your family honey!