Thursday, April 19, 2018

That Awful Feeling

On Sunday I got the news that an uncle had died more than a year ago. On New Year's Day last year to be exact. My godmother had texted me the news.

I didn't really react - he was old, and it was so long since I had considered him family - he got together with some low class female almost as soon as my aunt died all those years ago and kicked his own children, my cousins, out of the house.

OK it's not as bad as it sounds because they didn't really live with him. Both were at boarding school and they simply went to stay with the aunts for the holiday. But being rejected by their only remaining parent in favour of some stray woman they had never met who was now employed in 'comforting' their father because they could not accept her? Well it was bad enough.

I had not thought about this uncle very much through the years. I heard about him from time to time - he was running a post office, he was jailed for suspected arson - but not much else. As far as I was concerned he was subhuman. What man does that to his kids?

I would have probably continued to feel the same way if my intensely nosey godmother hadn't done some detective work and stalked his new son's FB page. He had another child with this woman... And his son, more than two decades younger than his other children loved his dad. In fact, he considered him a great father, husband and a true inspiration.

His grief at his father's passing was apparent. As was his estrangement from his half brother and sister. He never contacted them to tell them that their father had died.

And as we went further back in his posts, we realised that my uncle had been sick a long time; that there had not been enough money for his treatment; that his youngest son had actually tried to do a crowdfunding campaign and only managed to collect some 30 pounds.

It was all so heartbreaking. That he died poor and sick. No matter what he had done. And that he never got to see his other children again. That he never got to meet his grandchildren.

And I thought about whether it was worth it, all these grudges we hold on to, way past their sell-by date.

And I thought about the grudges I hold and tried to imagine what it would feel like if they died while we were still estranged.

It's been a troubled few nights.

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