My sister, 10-year-old nephew and parents traveled to Akron yesterday to visit my "grandparents." Please note the sarcasm implied in the use of the quotation marks. I believe there are certain obligations and responsibilities that come with being able to call yourself Grandparents, with a capital G, and my father's parents have fulfilled exactly none of those in the past ten years (at least for my siblings and I) , thus the text dripping with sarcasm. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.
My nephew is 10. My sister had only been married 6 years when she divorced. Catching the point of my "grandparents'" discontent there? How dare she besmirch their good name? Yeah, well. I have always referred to these people as excellent Catholics and horrible Christians. Their treatment of my father, CERTAINLY my mother ad most seriously my sister and nephew pretty much drives that point home. There are a long list of moral atrocities I could list here. Things you just don't do or say to family. But I won't. I will say that Dad's Mom wrote a horrific letter to my sister about 8 years ago, damning her for all eternity. I don't think any of my dad's other family knows about said letter, so they think the family estrangement has been our decision. Basically, there is the back story.
For reasons that are still not clear to me, my sister, parents and nephew went to visit these folks yesterday. Let me be clear that my dislike of them is only out of allegiance. I really have no personal beef, except that you just don;t treat people like that - especially family. So I thought it was pretty big of my sister to try to forgive.
Interestingly, nothing happened. The report all around is that everyone in Akron acted as if the last 10 years had not happened. How do you look at my gorgeous, intelligent, loving, kind and thoughtful nephew and not die a little death that you have voluntarily missed 10 years of knowing this fantastic kid? I don't know. It may have to do with the fact that I don't believe that my father's parents actually have souls.
My aunts - my dad's 2 sisters - are another story. I really don't know what to make of them. I truly don't think they know the letter ever existed. But why would they not ask what was up? Why would they not show support when our family was clearly in crisis? I really don't know.
So this is clearly not my tale to tell, but I am up to my neck in it. I have spent a decade of my life actively disliking this entire wing of my family (cousins excluded, got nothing against them) out of solidarity. What happens if those to whom I am bound decide to call a truce? How do you untrain yourself from such a strong distaste? How do you learn to like people you decided - long ago - were poison to your family? I just don't know. I just don't know.
Here is what I do know: If that is the way it shake out, that is what I will do. I will hop back on the Bratta train just as quickly as I hopped off. Out of solidarity. Like I said, I have no presonal beef with these people (other than my aunt calling me a piss ant when I didnlt tell her I was engaged and dad had to tell her...bygones, right?). But I am already struggling with how to automatically become a family after 10 years of distance, a decade of chosen banishment. I think it is going to be an interesting year.