Are some self-inflicted family barriers
too enormous to break down? Or even climb over?
I ponder on middle-aged identical twin
aunts of my ex-husband after their parents, his grandparents, died.
It was all over a silver teapot. One
didn't want the silver sugar bowl and creamer. Not at all. She'd
always had her eye on the teapot. With its ebony handle. But so did
the twin who inherited it. Stalemate. Neither budging in their
acquisitions. All familial civilized behaviour ceased at the reading
of the will and the designation of the miscellaneous silver bits and
bobs to the adult children, all eight of them. A few siding with each
twin. We can all nod at this for a lot of us have been there.
These identical twins never spoke to
each other again. Through family weddings, christenings and funerals.
And often they unconsciously dressed alike at such events. So there
was confusion as to who was who. A deep chill sliced the air when
Nellie was referred to as Annie. And vice-verso.
My great uncle left everything to his
favourite sister when he died. He'd made his will in London, a thing
unheard of up to then, especially in the little village where he grew
up. So it was all sewn up pretty tightly. Incontestable would be the
word used these days. He never married and left a tidy sum,
including an oak hand carved bed, to this sister. Who then incurred
the wrath of her siblings as she was the most well off of all of
them, even before her brother died. Her sister, my grandmother, was
always a bit stiff around her after that and made frequent (albeit
tinged with a slight edge) enquiries about the magnificent bed. But
no, she didn't want to see it. Deliberately, I now see. My mother
would wink at me to STF up if she saw my mouth opening. I had many
questions (always did, on everything) about how the bed was moved
from London to Cobh. Now, in hindsight, I see the money from the
will would have paid for this. Along with the fur coat carelessly
shrouding my great aunt as she sat at her tea in our dining room (one
soft-boiled egg so she could dip her toast fingers into it) with my
granny breathing very heavily through her nose beside her.
Which is all in the way of trying to
understand a barrier in my own family circle. No silver teapots or
oak beds involved at all. Just a sudden silence. Of two years
duration now. And the odd sentimental and nostalgic outreach with
attempts to meet and resolve quickly offered in return but never
responded to. To be followed by a long stretch of silence again.
Baffling. I wish it involved a silver teapot or bed. For then I would
understand. I've moved beyond the hurt and pain of this now, though
it took a while, to outright puzzlement.
I guess at some things we fail.
Unknowingly. And I, for one, would welcome enlightenment. I can be
too blind to my own faults. As can we all.
But I sure would love to know what this
teapot in a bed is all about.
Labels: family, hurting behaviours.