Extended family

Obit

 (This post is cross-posted over at Round is Funny)

My wife, NSG’s, step-grandfather died last week, and the family has been busily planning a memorial service for him and making plans to fly in from Kentucky, Hawaii, and other far-flung places.

The emails have been flying between NSG’s stepmother and her siblings, and the other day she sent out the obituary she had submitted to the paper.

She waxed poetic about her dad, about his struggle with Alzheimer’s, his love of music, his fervent environmentalism. She listed those left behind: his wife, his four children and each of their spouses, his 5 grandchildren, and Roo, his great-grandchild.

Conspicuously absent: me, and my sister-in-law’s wife. The lesbos. When they’ve mentioned 15 other family members by name – and included those who are family by marriage, what other reason would there be to leave the two of us out?

Are we not past this bullshit? NSG and her sister have their own difficulties in her relationship with their stepmother, but, to my knowledge, it’s never been about this. This is the very same stepmother who busted her hump to GROW the flowers for our wedding. What the hell?

It occured to me when I was complaining to my sister-in-law about this that the same thing happened when my grandmother died four years ago. My mother did the obit and listed every single person by name – but there was no mention of NSG. We’d been together for several years and were living together. When I confronted her about it – with exquisite timing, the same week my grandmother died and my father totalled his car – she got defensive, I realized my timing was going to get me nowhere, and I dropped it. Neither of us ever touched it again, but I realized this week how hurt I still am about it. The anniversary of her death is approaching, which probably has something to do with it.

I still want an apology from my mother. It just occured to me that I have to ask for it or I’m never going to get it.

I know: I live in happy queer-land, where we have rights and protections and family support that many people can’t dream of. Truly, I count my blessings. I think because of all this, and because our life truly is such the mundane queer life – Grocery shop! Change diapers! Go to work! Get an oil change! – that when something like this comes up it’s just a smack in the face.

I truly believe that NSG’s stepmother supports her stepdaughters, and my own relationship with her only underscores that. I think she choked: she was under stress, and was putting something about her family in the newspaper, and she panicked. I don’t mean to make excuses for her: I’m pissed. But I get it.

We’re bathed in these concepts of certain issues as being secrets, or shameful or embarassing, or something that one generation can accept but another can’t. And we try consciously to move past all that garbage, but I think sometimes consciously squashing our first instinct so we can do what we consciously know is right is as good as it gets.

We learn our lessons well.

No Comments

  1. I’m sorry for how hurt you and NSG are, and I think your analysis is spot on.

    While we demand that most of the family treat us as the family we are, a few members do get the “kid glove” treatment, even as doing that breaks our hearts.

    I take my encouragement in tiny bits. One of those family members recently “came out” about us to a few more people, and in telling us about it, said, “I’m tired of pretending.” Unfortunately, that relative’s spouse is not there yet.

  2. I think it’s these little things that show just how far we have yet to go. This is one of those little things that hook deep into the soul and refuse to let go because they’re an indication that fear still has a solid place in the hearts and minds of our loved ones. It might be just a thin sliver of fear, but it’s a stubborn one. I’m so sorry that on top of the grief of the passing is this grief of being passed over.

  3. I know that when we did my father’s obit Susan’s name was right there beside my sister in laws. My mother (and I) wouldn’t have it any other way.

    But I know how hurt Susan was 4 weeks later when we were on a family vacation for my father’s memorial and my SIL introduced Susan as my friend….

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