Darkness fell all around. Those are the words which came to mind as I opened my laptop. Fitting in every way. Ten minutes ago, downstairs, it was as though the light was being turned off by means of a dimmer switch; not suddenly but gradually. I was surrounded by gloom. Then came the loud crash of thunder. Some would say God was angry. Nature very definitely is … Once more, pathetic fallacy.
My friend’s mother passed away, peacefully, in the early hours of yesterday morning with her daughter and granddaughter by her side. It was they who granted her last wish to die at home, rather than in hospital; they who enabled it all. Aged 94, she was one lucky lady. However, there is no happy ending and the latest turn has only served to convince me, further, of the depravity of which some human beings are capable; the depths to which some will sink for money. A family of four siblings, without going into detail, the youngest brother has gone to great lengths – using great guile – to ensure that he has milked his mother of every last penny with not a thought for his siblings. Correction, with a great deal of thought for his siblings, consciously denying his sister and middle brother of that which is rightfully theirs. It’s not the money, though, but, rather, the hurt caused in believing that your mother did not deem you worthy; did not love you as much. That’s a deep wound and one from which it is difficult to recover, particularly when your mother is no longer here and answerable. Far from a happy ending, it is devastating. Not only coping with the grief of losing the last parent, one is faced with the realisation that one’s greatest foe is the little brother who not only shared one’s childhood but shares one’s blood!
The intricacies are complex and, as with my own family, worthy of a book; nay a proverbial mini-series! I grew up with the characters involved and witnessed the workings of a normal family subject to the inevitable favouritism and jealousy. Some children are just easier by nature; some demand more attention; some are riddled with insecurities; some prove to be mirrors of their parents ensuring magnets repel. Whatever, it is a potential minefield and the power to wound, immeasurable. The thing is, I have learned from my own experience – and, now, that of my friends – that, sadly, good guys don’t win. In hindsight, is there any wonder? The good guys are unaware of the enemy; unaware of factions drawn. I, for one, believed I was growing up on Walton’s Mountain while, all the time, the insecurities and jealousies were gathering a momentum to which I was completely oblivious. More fool me? Perhaps but, then, I loved Walton’s Mountain and I wouldn’t swap my years of innocence.
For my part, the fault-line in my family was borne of my mother’s insecurities. The younger of two sisters, her sibling was treated like a queen sparking an inferiority in my mother which would last for the rest of her days. Damaging in the extreme, those who knew her may never have known but, sadly, it is only in hindsight that I recognise the root of the problems which would, subsequently, shatter her own family. Close to my father – Pop – and my little brother, I was oblivious to the jealousy my mother – and sister – obviously felt but, in her latter years, when we were all married with children, she was powerless to hide it. Her cruel throw-away remarks and her blatant favouritism, when it came to her grandchildren, she would never admit but it was her means of championing my sister over me; someone in whom she recognised the childhood insecurities she, herself, was never able to overcome.
Families and the relationships within. So sad. Forget the book – not the first, a black comedy about my 6/8 year divorce but the second, about my own family – I have to take up script writing! Never look a gift horse in the mouth, isn’t that the saying? Well, the material I have gleaned from the family with whom I spent so much time as a child, and my own is just crying out to be made into a film. Something along the lines of August: Osage County, methinks. Based on the Pulitzer prize-winning play of the same name, penned by Tracy Letts in 2007, one bears witness to the destruction of a family courtesy of the festering wounds of injustice which have gone untreated for a lifetime. The catalyst of the father’s suicide – following the mother’s cancer – brings the three adult daughters together, once more, in a car crash of unbottled emotion. Once unleashed, however, the genie can never be put back in the bottle; the damage can never be reversed.
Reading the reviews of the film, at the time, Paul Asay of Plugged In, hauntingly, cites the mother, Violet’s wound which would permeate the rest of her life:
‘When Violet was a young girl, she longed for a pair of cowboy boots – boots that matched those of her young beau. She begged for those boots, pleaded for them, told her mother they were all she wanted for Christmas.
Come Christmas morning, a boot box sat underneath the tree. Violet was so excited: she ripped off the paper, flung open the box … and found a pair of work boots, worn and ratty, dirt caked in the tread.
“My mama laughed about it for days”, she recalls.’
The power to wound; for some, too deep to heal.
I am exhausted – and sad. I, acutely, feel the pain of my friend and her brother, the one who has been widely – and wrongly – maligned for years by an insidious sibling who is riddled with self-loathing manifest in greed. Justice may cost – of that I am no longer in any doubt – but, thankfully, I, too, believe in karma.
In the words of Elbert Hubbard,
‘Men are not punished for their sins, but by them.’
Well, what do you know, comedy scripts are, obviously, my thing …
This is Trish, signing off.