I lost an aunt a couple of weeks ago in New York. I’ve never mentioned her here. She was the widow of my other uncle – my mother’s and my novelist uncle’s younger brother. He died at 48 in early 1994.
My aunt had been ill for a long time. I hadn’t seen her in about 5 years. I last spoke to her just after my mother died in 2015.
Yes, the beard is off. The major reason it is? She who is dearest to me, revealing: "It's as I imagine kissing a brush might feel."😜 . Okay, it's Friday and given previously I've put up paintings of lovely eighteenth century ladies, why not a handsome bloke of that era?🇫🇷🇬🇧🇺🇸It's only fair.📚🖌 . And how about an *unbearded* man? This is American diplomat William Short, painted by Rembrandt Peale in 1806, when Short was age 47.🇺🇸 . #humor #humour #painting #USA #France #diplomacy #Europe #travel #expats #classical #history #art #writing #authors #photo #photography #beards #Hertfordshire #England #novels #fiction #romance #writing #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #fun #Friday #weekend
My writing is a form of release. (As is social media.) It’s a means to try to get away. It has proven especially important to me in the last couple of years.
My mother, my novelist uncle, and now my aunt, all gone in 18 months. And my father is a wreck. I had been feeling low at times in the last few weeks – as if I had lost most of my American family virtually all at once.
Grief is like living a nightmare that you can never awaken from. You cannot shake a sense of feeling trapped and isolated. You become short-tempered. Little annoyances are suddenly magnified a thousand times.
I had an especially bad moment yesterday. When my wife – not knowing how I was feeling – related innocently to me that family members would “talk” if her father did not drive to Devon (in the English southwest) for a cousin’s funeral, I saw stars. It was like a match had lit a fuse. I felt anger rising. I exploded: “He’s 86! He can’t drive from London there for a bloody funeral! Someone needs to tell them to f-ck off!”
She shouted back at me: “That’s uncalled for.”
It was like vomiting. And her becoming uptight back at me just spurred me on. I couldn’t stop. I think I then blurted out something like, “On at him over a f-cking funeral! Do they have any brains?! He can’t drive that far! They need to be told to shut the f-ck up!”
I was trembling. She didn’t see how I felt inside because she couldn’t. I went up into our bedroom and … cried.
I wasn’t angry at her. I was just venting. I wasn’t even that troubled about my father-in-law: he has not exactly been a great guy to us over the last decade.
I had earlier taken an afternoon nap – I don’t often do that – because I was feeling out of sorts and a bit down. When I awoke, much as I tried to think happy thoughts, I still felt off. Her telling me of family nimcompoops making unreasonable demands and being judgmental of an 86 year old set me off. I could have jumped through my skin at the idiocy.
A grief counsellor weeks after my mother’s 2015 death had said people react to loss in their own ways. And often unpredictably so. With me I notice grief can appear over silly things, or in moments of stress.
Yesterday, my in-laws were coming to visit and the extended family dynamic since 2004 has at times been very unpleasant. And there you get that stress. They blame my wife because a pig sister-in-law told my wife to get lost after we had spent a year and a half helping them, and by extension also their kids, with work and money after my brother-in-law had lost his job.
As we helped them, all they did was abuse my wife and expect more. They blackmailed us with their kids. Essentially we were told give over money unconditionally and indefinitely or you won’t see the kids again – oh, and by the way, we have you over a barrel because if you don’t do exactly what we want we’ll whine to the grandparents and they’ll back us, not you, because of our children. And you don’t have kids.
Our reaction: shove your kids. No one threatens us. That woman – and my brother-in-law went along with it – created a rift that exists to this day and will never go away. Because of her decree, we have had nothing to do with their three kids since; however, we do have excellent relations with my wife’s other brother’s three kids. That difference – forced upon us by the pig sister-in-law – and that the kids are all of similar ages, has naturally created a great deal of friction over the years with my in-laws. I can’t begin to go into the trouble and ugliness it has caused us time and again.
The pig sister-in-law was right: those three grandchildren “trumped” rationality and justified any level of ingrate, obnoxious behaviour on her part. After all we’d done for them, my wife being told off by that pig became … somehow … my wife’s fault. As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. If you are young and newly married, allow me to offer this piece of advice: NEVER EVER EVER get involved with relatives and money.
But I can say nothing to my mother-in-law when she occasionally passive-aggressively insults her daughter, my wife, right in front of me. My wife has the patience of a saint. If she were my mother, I’d have told her off years ago.
And there we have the connection. My wife’s mother is not my mother and never will be. I could disagree and even yell at my mother and call her on her nonsense. I cannot say even “Boo” to my mother-in-law because she gets “offended.” She can dish out insults, but can’t take them.
So when I see my wife pained by her mother, I’m infuriated. On her deathbed, my mother asked for my wife: but my wife couldn’t be there; she was in England – doing a favor for her parents because they were away with the pig sister-in-law and family. I find myself often thinking that on her deathbed my mother-in-law doesn’t deserve my wife at her side. She deserves that f-cking daughter-in-law sitting there, asking about what’s left in the bank account.
Happy Sunday! Sometimes, you just wanna tell the world – as I especially did at one point yesterday – to go … take a hike.🇬🇧📸🚶🏻 . #travel #walking #rambling #Hertfordshire #England #photo #photographylife #rural #woods #scenic #alone #countryside #writers #authors #authorsofinstagram #writersofinstagram #weekend #family #relationships
I miss my mother. I miss my uncle. When you experience grief, you can feel as if walls are closing in. Yet you can’t escape your body. Yesterday at one point I even felt as if I was outside myself looking at myself trapped inside myself and losing my rag. I was yelling because I couldn’t escape from me. And there is no escape.
Be patient with those who lose those they love. You cannot know the pain. Grief may erupt unexpectedly for reasons you don’t understand. They aren’t angry at you. They are angry at what is lost that will never be again. They are bitter – if ever so briefly – at the world that lives on happily, or obsesses about nonsense, while their loved one(s) is gone forever.
Thank you for reading that. I just had to get that off my chest. Have a good day, wherever you are in the world.