In Search Of Words

In Search Of Words

A recent search for an appropriate
birthday card was fruitless. The funny ones were totally off the mark.
The mushy ones were the kind I'd never fathom sending, even to an enemy
(who, of course, sends a birthday card to their enemy, you might ask).
The deep, gushy, meaningful ones (which are just a tad different from
the mushy ones) were all off the mark. Those mushy ones and the
supposedly "deep" ones generally rub me the wrong way.

This was
a search for a card to send to a relative with whom I've had almost no
contact for 15+ years. We saw each other two summers ago, when we were
both visiting at a hospital at the same time. There was no conversation
or interaction between us (not that I didn't try), except for a rather
curt "Hello," in reply to my greeting. All the attention was paid to Susan, being nice to her and giving her full focus.

had brought a bunch of books: pager-turners, mysteries, even a recent
best-seller or two. Always a good gift to someone stuck in the
hospital. This was the topic of what little conversation there was, and
I was not a part of it. All the while, of course, my estranged relative
avoiding me like the plague. This was followed by a rather sudden
taking of leave, and there's been no contact since.

This is a
relative with whom I was once very close. Sure, we had our ups and
downs and spats, differences, arguments, as do all family members. We
had experienced a few cultural and lifestyle divides about 17 or 18
years ago, but that was not a huge problem. It created some distance,
but this was not such a bad thing. Relationships evolve over time, this
was a turn it took. In many ways it seemed a almost natural, organic
sort of shift in our personal landscapes.

A few years ago, as
various changes occurred in the lives of many in our family, a number
of reconciliatory events came to pass. This brought about some rancor
as well as reconciliation. As an oddity of fate, of happenstance, at
just about the same moment in time, yet another family member chose the
path of total estrangement --from all of us-- although that person
stays in sporadic touch with my ex, and, to a much lesser degree, with
my children.

Why write this? Why share it, albeit in a somewhat cryptic manner?

and disconcerting as these things can be, there is comfort in knowing
one is not alone. Mine is not the only family which has endured strife,
alienation, estrangements. There's a whole dose of family politics in
there, too, but that would take too long and probably require too much
detail to go into. Particularly in a space such as this.

someone reading this on the 'blog will share some thoughts on a similar
matter. There's comfort in knowing one is not alone, and maybe a
suggestion or a warning or words of wisdom might come from this.

major part of the reason I write this is to help focus, gather my
thoughts, and come up with what to write in the birthday card I finally

The card is a non-descript sort, with five flowers on the cover. The top of each flower forms a letter.

It ends up spelling B-L-O-O-M.

The inside says, "Have a Happy Year."

Go to a store carrying the Hallmark Fresh Ink line (egad, a quick Google search
finds all these hits, many of which explain that this line is aimed at
Women 18-39!) and you can probably see it. One of those square-shaped
cards. A bargain at $1.95 (yikes: $2.75 in Canada! Seems more than the
exchange rate, eh?).

This card was the closest I could come to
matching the sentiment I wish to express. Have a good year, enjoy life,
good things should happen. Another birthday, a time to receive
well-wishes from those who care. A moment in the year when certain
friends and family (and extended family) take time to offer a nicety.

There is more, though, that I wish to express.

I am tired of
the estrangement. We are getting older, and significant events and
family mileposts are looming in the near future. My son had his Bar
Mitzvah; this relative was not invited, nor even considered among those
who might or did receive an invitation. This was a moment which could
have been shared a bit more widely. A moment of great pride and joy, of
family happiness.

In some ways I miss the companionship and
conversation we once shared. I miss having what was once a special peer
of sorts, from within my family. Common experience and point of
reference, something intangible. Among friends it is quite special,
among family it is actually on a more innate, inherent level.

is much about which we will continue to disagree. Much which will
either remain as a dark, hovering cloud, or be water under the bridge.
Maybe stinky water, at that.

What I want to say is WHY DOES THIS GO ON INTERMINABLY? What is the point?

thoughts go to this relative on birthdays, certain holidays, and other
occasions. Here and there something will happen that I would like to
share or relate, and this relative comes to mind.

It takes two
to tango, and this relative has spurned my efforts in the past at
talking, getting together, attempting to possibly sort out the
differences. Could be, once again, this will just get chalked up as
another spurned effort, I don't know. Time will tell. I figure it is
worth a try.

Maybe this is some sort of ongoing power play, like that ridiculous wall sign I once saw: "Not to make a decision is to make a decision." That was supposed to motivational, which struck me as hogwash.

As the saying goes, you can pick your friends. You can't pick your family.


All this talk of family, so here's a neat shareware software program from Australia for creating your family tree.

a book I read a few years ago which captures much of the pathos which
in many ways mirrors what I wrote above. When I read the book,
entertaining and gripping though it was, I found it flawed and abundant
with inconsistencies and errors. Nitpick though I did (greatly!), the
spirit of the book is excellent. It may be the best work of its type.
Amazon shows it as out of print, but check out the review of it still available for view thereabouts.