Sunday, November 27, 2005

Things One Remembers Whilst Brushing Teeth

There is a certain comic value to free association, I discovered the other day, whilst brushing my teeth. Most adults, as they mature, let go of old hurts an slights. Occasionally, however, those old wounds get a bit of a bump at the oddest moment.

Did you ever have one of those times, where you're happily doing your mindless thing and one of those old memories -- the kind that piss you off -- resurfaces?

This letter, which will never be read by the offending -- or at least is highly unlikely to be read by them -- is what I would have said had I been a stronger person, once upon a time.

Once upon a time at a funeral in Edmonton.

1987

Dear Aunt Margaret,

We came today to celebrate the life of your mother, our grandmother and great grandmother and my grandma-in-law.

I’m new to the family. I’ve been married to your nephew for a bit over 7 months. I don’t know you and your spouse, although I met you once before now, at my wedding. You didn’t speak to me then, but thanks for coming.

Today’s difficult for everyone. My spouse has lost his grandmother and my father-in-law his mother. I have no idea how close you are to each other or were to your mother, but I get that because we don’t see or hear much of you or your family, you aren’t’ that close.

Anyway, I’ve come to the funeral because she was my husband’s grandmother, not because I knew her well, although I wish I had. I’m sure she had many stories to tell and lived an interesting life.

Because I don’t know anyone here beyond the immediate family, I’m staying out of the way. This isn’t my event or even my family – yet. So I don’t understand why, on this sad occasion, when I came to offer my condolences to you, in private, you would choose to load off your anger and disappointment on me. I have no idea what you’re angry about, although I hear you’re a jealous woman – jealous of your living brother and I suppose pissed off at your brother who died by his own hand; they took the focus off you and it is plain you are desperate for attention.

Are you annoyed that your only daughter, who is so outwardly accomplished and beautiful, married a man who spent all of his and all of her her money on his cocaine addition? Are you mad that your jealousy destroyed your relationship with your living family? Are you pissed because your father died and left you?

I don’t know what I represent to you or why you’ve decided you hate my guts. But you should know it doesn’t matter at all what you think of me. All I’ll take away from your outburst is that you’re weak and angry and you needed somewhere to hang it all.

I’ll give it to you that you did hurt me by making it so plain you wish I hadn’t come to your mother’s funeral. Your comment to my spouse, that it was very nice to see him, made while pointedly ignoring me, did sting. He either really loves you or is terrified of you (probably), because he didn’t stand up for me. What have you done in the past to merit that fear?

Congratulations; you did stick the knife in. But that makes you no better than anyone else who for no other reason than self-satisfaction, injures or kills another person. It won’t eliminate your anger, won’t change anything and it will add to your pain and your disappointment, when someday, you realize that you’ve lived your life hating.

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