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My brother Hart's funeral - Mo's Journal Page 2
October 26th, 2006
03:03 pm

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My brother Hart's funeral
My brother Hart died a few days ago. We don't know exactly when, or even what happened. He lived alone and apparently died in his sleep. He had been unwell much of his life, having had a brain injury at age eight with significant sequelae, but no one thought his life was threatened by his health issues. It seems he truly did just go to sleep and not wake up, and I'm thankful he had an easy death. I hope, for my own peace of mind, that I'll soon hear the results of his autopsy.

I'm one of six siblings. I'm the second child and the eldest girl (we're boy girl boy girl boy girl). Hart was the next child after me. I had not seen him in a long time.

I was disowned over 30 years ago when I came out at age 19. My parents have been completely intransigent for all that time, insisting that all extended family members shun me as well. Most have complied.

I'm not the only one my parents have banned from contact with them and theirs. Of the six of us "kids" three have no relationship at all with our parents, and our parents have made great efforts to deny our existence. For example, they removed all pictures of me from their house when they cut me off. S., my youngest sister (15 years younger than me) corresponded with me secretly during high school. She's now in the estranged category herself. I feel like we are in two "camps" - the Mom-and-Dad Camp and the Banned Camp. I hate that, but I hated it more when I was in a camp by myself.
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For those who have read my fiction, this might give a little insight into how and why family estrangement is a theme that I explore. FWIW, here is my stance: I am subject to family estrangement but I don't participate in it. I don't in any way condone or contribute to cutting people out of their family's lives. Anyone who wants contact with me is always welcome to have it, even if they have not spoken to me for years, even if they have tried to get others to deny my existence, even if I know it's likely that they'll be friendly today and go back to pretending I don't exist tomorrow (this is the pattern with some of the siblings).

I invited my parents to my kids' bnai mitzvah as well as all my siblings, even those who pretend they don't know I exist. I do this not in any hope that they will change their minds, but because I want to set an example for my children that this is just something We Do Not Do. Banning relatives is a practice I abhor, and it is one that stops with me.

Current Mood: sadsad

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From:ringthebells
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:37 am (UTC)
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I'm so sorry. *hug*
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From:mofic
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. Hugs are definitely a help.
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From:melty_girl
Date:October 27th, 2006 06:44 am (UTC)
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I'm so sorry about your brother. And your family.

I'm going through some family strangeness and estrangement right now and am baffled at why people persist in compounding loss on top of loss. There's just no sense to it. I don't understand how any mother could behave like yours, yet I know that she is not the only one. I wish you didn't have to experience that...
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From:mofic
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
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Thanks. I hope your family situation resolves itself well and soon. I totally agree with you that it is compounding loss upon loss. That's a painfully accurate way to describe family estrangement.
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From:momma_geek
Date:October 27th, 2006 12:53 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for sharing all this, Dale. I applaud your stand on not banning relatives. We have a big family split in our family right now and it's causing pain on both sides. Life's just too short.
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From:mofic
Date:October 27th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
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I remembered you were dealing with a family split. I hope it works out, and soon.
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From:mofic
Date:October 29th, 2006 01:59 am (UTC)
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It's definitely the right thing to say, and yes there are multiple layers of loss.

In a very New York moment yesterday some one on the subway noticed my torn black ribbon (Jewish mourning custom) and said to me, "I'm sorry for your troubles" (Irish mourning phrase). I've always loved that expression - it seems so perfect.
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From:faramir_boromir
Date:October 27th, 2006 04:21 pm (UTC)
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I'm glad you set the positive example for your kids, so that you can break the cycle with their generation. That is the best that can be said, in light of such sad news. I grieve with you.
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From:mofic
Date:October 29th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC)
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I hope the next generation will break the cycle. It felt so strange to see my brother's kids at the funeral - a nephew and niece I'd never seen, who have never met their cousins on their father's side, who don't even know they have any, presumably.
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From:hitchhiker
Date:October 27th, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC)
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I'm sorry for your loss, and for all you had to put up with at your family's hands :(
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From:mofic
Date:October 29th, 2006 02:01 am (UTC)
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Thanks, Martin. It's sad for us all.
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From:musamea
Date:October 27th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
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I'm so sorry to hear about your losses. I know a little bit about how it feels to have estranged family (My dad's mother was awful to him and my mom when they got married. Things are somewhat better now that it's become obvious that my brother is going to be their only male grandchild, but I can still remember really tense times with that side of our family), and it really sucks. You're amazing for how strong you've been, and I'm so glad your kids have a mother like you. *hugs*
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From:mofic
Date:October 29th, 2006 02:02 am (UTC)
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Thanks very much for the kind words.
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From:uraniachang
Date:October 28th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
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I'm sorry about your brother, even though you weren't very close but flesh-and-blood isn't something one can simply deny by distance.
As for your family, I have no idea why they banned you at the first place, but "banned" is a really harsh way to treat a family member, I only hear it happen when one commits cold-blooded murder, sexual attack or once, one pair of parents throw their son out coz of his sexuality in my country. I can understand the first two cases but I always disagree with the third one. Though family is one of the strongest power in world, it's also one of the most complicated matter, I truly hope that you can resolve your family issue some day and have one happy family reunion you so deserve, but if it doesn't work, just remember there are still people caring for you even when some of your family are too blind to do so.
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From:mofic
Date:October 29th, 2006 02:04 am (UTC)
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Thanks for your kind words. I was disowned because I came out as a lesbian. Sorry that wasn't clear.
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From:eveningblue
Date:October 29th, 2006 07:35 pm (UTC)
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Dale, this is so very sad. I'm sorry about Hart, but I'm glad you've found an ally in S. You are such an upbeat person; it's amazing to me that you've not only survived but also thrived, despite your family's treatment of you.

Take care of yourself.
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From:mofic
Date:October 30th, 2006 03:02 am (UTC)
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Thanks. It's been a hard week, but it's also been one where I've felt a lot of love and caring.
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