In the middle of my depression, a time I call my ‘blue period’, I phoned my brother. I had been out of touch with my family for a long time. I’d phoned but hadn’t travelled back up north for awhile.
As usual, me and big brother talked about music and my nieces and the latest exploits of dad’s battle with the neighbours – always a story or two that left me shocked and amazed.
Just as I was about to sign off I asked my brother if there was any other news. He thought for a while and came up with “Auntie Brenda died.”
I was mortified. I hadn’t been all that close with dad’s older brother but family is family. “Oh God, how is Uncle Harry taking it, is he all right?” I asked.
“Oh, he died six months ago.” My brother said matter of factly.
“Oh my God? What about Philip? He must be distraught.” I was horrified.
“He committed suicide about a year ago.” My brother said calmly.
“What? You didn’t think to tell me?” I asked as calmly as my shocked system would allow.
“Well dad wasn’t talking to them.” He answered as if that made it alright.
“He’s definitely not talking to them now, is he?” I said perplexed by the whole situation.
I told my psychiatrist this story and he now uses it as an example of how families can drift apart, not communicate, and generally lose touch if they don’t make the effort to visit, talk, or in this case, not tell someone news because they think it might upset them – I was wandering round in a sort of fugue state for awhile.
I only mention this now because dad is not talking to Uncle Vince and Auntie Maureen, and because Auntie Irene has tried to get my father talking to his younger brother, he’s not talking to her either.
Dad has always been a funny old fish, but with age he has become more cantankerous, more judgemental, more racist, and more awkward.
And everyone says I take after my father.