When Opportunity Knocks....
If I would've known then what I know now, what different choices I would have made.
Date: 6/18/2007 4:08:15 PM ( 14 y ) ... viewed 1954 times
Talk about testing my good intentions....
My sister (half-sister actually) called to notify me recently that our first cousin, who I have not had any contact with in over 30 years, is in the hospital with a brain tumor. We all live in the same city. She had brain surgery and the prognosis is not good.
My sister was pressuring me to go visit my cousin with her but I resisted fiercely, saying that it would be awkward to go considering we are total strangers to each other since we have been out of touch for so long. She insisted it was the right thing to do but I wouldn't budge and got so mad that she was pressuring me. This whole scenario was totally taking me out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, I decided to consult with my brother who lives far away from us and he agreed it was the right thing to do and I should think of it as doing a good deed for a stranger. So I capitulated and phoned my sister to say I would accompany her.
Backtrack - my mother always tagged along with her older sister, much to the resentment of my Aunt, who was six years older than my Mom. Our family eventually moved to the same street where my Aunt lived but the two sisters never got along. My mother was so needy and desperate for her sister's love and affection, which of course sent my Aunt running for cover. I remember my mother always crying a river because of something her sister had allegedly said or done (or neglected saying or doing) to hurt her.
My mother had one very nasty habit that she continuously indulged in. She fabricated stories and lies about us, her children, so that people would feel sorry for her. She bad-mouthed us to everybody, weaving lies and more lies - anything to garnish attention. Like the time she claimed we beat her up. Then, when news broke about my Mom and uncle, I am sure my Aunt got wind of it.
Needless to say, I flew the coop when the first opportunity arose and have been too ashamed to contact any of my extended family because of all the vicious stories that have been circulating about me and my siblings. I never made an effort to contact any of them and neither did anyone try to contact me. Total and complete isolation from my family. This wasn't such an issue until after I had my own children and realized the value and importance of an extended family. How my heart ached every time we attended a wedding or other celebration and saw families come together for the occasion. How heartbreaking to always spend holidays alone. How jealous I was when other families I knew had huge family get togethers. My heart ached for the joy my children would never know nor could I exactly explain why things were the way they were.
Fast forward to present time - I went with my sister to the hospital. I brought photos of my girls to show my cousin. She was unrecognizable to me. It was so awkward being there. She was too weak to really engage in any real conversation but I managed to express that I am sorry that I have not been in contact all these years and I admitted I have been ashamed and embarrassed because of how my mother represented us to her family. She did not deny nor confirm what I was saying. I don't know how she truly reacted to my visit - she was too sick. Then her father called and I was handed the telephone receiver. He is over 90 years old and started to tell me that he had goosebumps talking to me, that he remembers me playing with his son in the den just like it was yesterday. I confessed that I didn't remember ever playing with my cousin in the den and that most of my childhood memories are gone due to severe memory issues which have always plagued me. I am hoping that writing this blog will actually jog my memory.
I came away from the hospital with one overriding feeling - REGRET! My cousin is obviously well loved because she had people flying in to see her from thousands of miles away. Every day her best friend brings her home cooked food and while my sister and I were there, there were other visitors too. One thing became abundantly clear - she must be a good person or she wouldn't have so many devoted friends. How sad I was that I missed out on getting to know my first cousin as an adult. She never married and I bet she would have loved being an Aunt figure to my three children. And my girls would have benefitted enormously as well. What a waste that I have allowed my feelings of shame to keep me alone, lonely and isolated. Worse than this is that I have passed this horrible legacy on to my children. Woe be to me!!
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