Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Teapot and the Bed

 
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.
 
 








20 comments:

  1. It's hard to understand these mini-feuds among families. I can think of a couple within my own circle, back in the UK.
    I suspect some feuds might mask a much deeper antagonism for quite different reasons, and not be about the object or event presented as cause at all.

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  2. This type of thing is always so sad to me. I do believe it has very little to do with money or things; more to do with who loved whom the most - or perceptions of that.

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  3. I'm inclined to agree with Twilight's take on the feud.

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  4. T:

    I like your take on this.

    When needs aren't met it can cause a lot of grief. I'm beginning to believe that this relative's needs weren't met by me even though unstated by relative.

    Marcia:

    Yes, I agree when it comes to estates, though estrangement for no reason I'm aware of baffles me.

    GFB:

    Yes, me too.

    XO
    WWW

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  5. Very mysterious that the silence has lasted for two years and you still have no idea what's at the bottom of it. I suppose you've never tried asking point blank what the frostiness is all about?

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  6. Nick:
    Yes I have in response to the nosalgic/sentimental emails. But like I said, silence.

    I even offered last time to move along and restore our former relationship if they didn't want to discuss it. Whatever it is.

    *crickets*

    XO
    WWW

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  7. Not an easy one to find an answer for. Never give up. I didn't in a similar situation and one day the ice melted and the doors to the persons heart opened. things are fine now between us.

    I love the square.

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  8. I agree with Twilight too. I hope you can figure your situation out though. My Husband is going thorough it with his Family right now, but i decided to stay out of it. I'm blessed that i have a good relationship with mine.

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  9. You are at the mercy of this silent relative and in a way they have you under control by not divulging what their gripe is. It's best to put them out of your mind as much as is possible and get on with your life. I know you are doing that already and I'm proud of you. xox

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  10. Bizarre, especially since you asked directly. There is always more to a story than you know, though. And often, things are just plain out of your control.

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  11. GM:

    Oh I never give up, I love them too much. But it is the desert of not knowing that is so awful.

    XO
    WWW

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  12. CC12,

    There is an odd sort of comfort in knowing I'm not alone in this and it happens in other families too.

    Enjoy your relationships. This one was very special to me.

    XO
    WWW

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  13. Irene:

    I thought the behaviour was remarkably cruel and then put that thought out of my head as it made me nearly crazy.

    Oh I do get on with my life which is very enjoyable on the whole but sometimes this gets me down. Not knowing why.

    XO
    WWW

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  14. SAW:

    Yes totally freaky this not knowing and I've gone over everything in our last meetup and figure I must have offended them in some way and I imagine it must have been huge for them to behave like this.

    And I must be stupid not to figure it out.....

    XO
    WWW

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  15. Your words have spoke to my heart this early morning.
    So aware of matters in my family in the past and even at this time.
    I know I have failed in the past
    in some matters and finally come to the conclusion that it was because of much I needed emotionally from teenage parents.
    I now see some barriers between two granddaughter's. Oh I do not want this and try to handle in a kind way. Wisdom comes as we age
    and guess we do all we know to do.

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  16. When there is no resolution possible, it's time to move on. No consolation of course, but what can't be cured, must be endured.

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  17. OWJ

    Yes, I understand. When needs aren't met as a child we tend to walk around with them unfulfilled and looking towards others.

    Awareness is the key. And sometimes my wisdom fails me.

    XO
    WWW

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  18. Marc:

    Yes, I'm there, actually.

    Sometimes there are no answers and logic doesn't help at all when emotions are involved.

    XO
    WWW

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  19. "Logic doesn't help at all where emotions are involved" is an apt statement. Nor does logic allow you to dismiss the emotion. Perhaps this relative is in the black dog's grip and can't respond. Thankfully time dulls the pain even if it doesn't ameliorate it entirely. And airing it, sharing it as you have done, sometimes lessens the ache. My mother and he brother had a similar falling out with each other over estate items. There are times I am glad I have next to nothing. My kids won't have to fight over my things when I'm gone.

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  20. Pauline:
    Leaving very little is a good thing to do for our children...:)

    Now that I've shared it I feel a bit better, it was like an open sore for two years and the healing has begun.

    XO
    WWW

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