Since Father died, I have been liberated: No longer do I have to worry about and helplessly witness his deteriorating condition—whether it be the huge skeins of phlegm that I literally had to lop off while he was eating or his disorientation from dementia. Gone are the things that eroded my own physical and mental health: his mumbling, his inattentiveness to my kids, his worsening melancholy when he had a lucid moment to reflect on the ravages of his Parkinson’s disease or his bone cancer. Now my back pain has significantly lessened, my liver abnormalities have vanished, my ulcer rarely flares up; and I have a newly found positive attitude towards my family and friends.
But it’s not been easy to overcome my anger at you for distancing yourself from Father and, by extension, from me. I have always had trouble accepting your “perverse” decisions, from adopting the iconoclastic views of our upstart cousin over Father’s rigid authority to choosing not to contact me during the long dark night of Father’s terminal illnesses. Why didn’t you at least make an effort to give him or me support (moral or even financial) when you knew how bleak the situation was over the last four years? We needed you to take some overt interest. Of course, I was too proud to ask for your help. I felt that it was up to you to take the initiative. So much for my being assertive! Finally, last year, I did contact you, and you kindly offered to send me some money to defray routine expenses for Father. Yet you didn’t come to his funeral, call me, or even send a card. That indifference really hurt. It took you two weeks after the funeral to phone me. But I had no use for your belated concern. I scorned your reaching out to me. How could you make up for those years of ignoring the hell that Father and I had to endure?
At my most recent counseling session, I brought up the issue of my repressed anger towards you. As I began to relate how close I felt we once were when we were kids, I started to cry. And when I further complained that soon afterward, you no longer needed my affection, never mind my attention, I wept some more. I was surprised that I got so emotional. I guess I miss you more than I’d like to admit. When I reflect on how critical of you I have been ever since you alienated yourself from Father and from me, I can understand how our self-righteous judgments could have offended and poisoned you against us. Remember when I gave you such a hard time for driving barefoot or for preferring modern classical composers to the romantic greats? How petty I was. That last counseling session was quite an epiphany.
Please forgive me for my negative thoughts about you. What I want is mutual respect and frequent contact, at least via phone. Your being 2,000 miles away doesn’t mean that we have to be separate anymore.
Understand your letter, was abandoned by all my siblings while caring for my sick mother before she passed away. Two other sisters in same city, know one would give me break for even a day and when she was hospitalized no one there but me for hours after work.
I put it in God's hands, they have grown children now and what goes around comes around.
Thank you, Schlomo, for sharing this. I am sure that it was a difficult letter to write. And to publish.
I am just as certain that you are not alone in your feelings. I'm sure there are many members here who have similar such difficult family ties. And I'm sure they will all benefit from reading your words and listening to your feelings, as they reflect on their own feelings and relationships.