27 Years

”So I just spoke with your Uncle Dean,” said my dad.

“Oh yeah?” I replied, “How's he doing?” I hadn't seen my godfather since my dad's nursing home stint at the beginning of the year, but he'd made a point of calling my dad several times a week since then. There's nothing like almost losing a friend to remind us of his or her importance, and as the man who helped introduce my folks, Uncle Dean was more family than friend.

“He was calling to say his brother passed away.”

“Oh, I'm sorry,” condoled I, “Are you going to the wake, then?”

“No, he's already buried. They hadn't spoken for 27 years.”

“27 years?!”

“Yeah, he answered the phone, and his sister-in-law simply told him, ‘Your brother's dead. Goodbye.' Then she hung up.”

My dad went on to tell me how the two brothers were equally stubborn. Uncle Dean's brother, in my dad's words, was “a bit of a playboy,” and wasn't much help when their mother was dying. After she was gone, the brother moved out of state, and the two never spoke again. And now, they never would. The silence had become irreversible.

I've never held on to a girlfriend for more than two-and-a-half years, or a single job for more than seven; I can't fathom holding a grudge for TWENTY-SEVEN. There was a period of time before I was born, when my dad didn't speak to his oldest sister over a property dispute after my grandfather had died(she sued him with the family lawyer to take their old house). Eventually they got back to speaking again, and once or twice a year she'll call from Florida. “I can forgive, but I'll never forget,” he'll tell me. There's still tension, but at least they're talking.

I guess it comes down to the path of least resistance. The good things take work and effort to hold on to; ironically the negative stuff is easier to keep and difficult to shed. I'm glad my aunt and my dad reached some form of uneasy truce before it was too late. It’s a genuine shame that my Uncle Dean’s relationship with his brother died 27 years before the man did. Proud and stubborn though my godfather may be, he’s also a man of caring and concern, evidenced by how frequently he visited my dad when he was sick. He’s maintained a friendship with my dad, who’s like a brother, for far longer than he kept that grudge. The people in our lives, whether placed there by biology or chance, each play some important role, not to be discarded lightly. If their friendship could last that long, if my parents’ marriage has now passed 39 years, then it proves that sometimes, just sometimes, good things last too.


Blogger Lorna said...

That was a sad, sad story, but you pulled something good out of it. We're equally Pollyanna

11/19/2009 4:36 PM  

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