Saturday, March 16, 2013

Making Progress

I've blogged in the past about our estrangement with Bryan's side of the family. It's been nearly two years since many of his family members last spoke with us. In that time I've been trying to get Bryan to extend an olive branch. He doesn't understand why I would want him to do this since he's quite happy with the current arrangement. I'm not, and have been pretty clear about it from the start. Family, for good or for ill, is still family.

When my grandmother on my Dad's side of the family passed away there was an estrangement between my aunt and the rest of her siblings. She essentially chose to withdrawal herself from the rest of the family. It's an estrangement that has lasted for over twenty years. So when I lost my beloved grandmother, I also lost my aunt who I liked to pester. When my uncle became ill a few years ago, the only way my father and aunt could get a message to her was through the police department since she wouldn't talk to them. My only contact with my aunt in twenty years has been Christmas cards signed only with her name and no other communication, and a few words exchanged with her in a cemetery at my uncle's burial. I was told she was at the church on my wedding day, but I didn't see her.

On my mom's side there is an estrangement with my uncle. And, I have aunts who don't speak to one another. The rift between my uncle and my mother and aunt was something that was of great concern to my grandmother as she was dying. She wanted them reconciled, and for a brief time, it was as she wished, but it was strained, almost artificial. The rift is still there, but it's not to the point of the estrangement on my dad's side. 

So the estrangement with my husband's family bothers me. Estrangements are the results of stubborn people holding onto grudges that do nothing but fester. It appears that in the case of Bryan and his family, they [he and his mother, specifically] have reached an impasse. What likely could have been settled if both parties had agreed to sit down and talk has turned into what may very well be an irreparable rift.

On our side, the door is open. We would certainly welcome any of these family members into our home if ever they should show up at our door. As a parent, I cannot understand how one could sit back and not make any attempts to reconcile with their son, especially when grandchildren, the only grandchildren, are involved.  It seems a pity to miss out on their childhood.  Katie is seventeen months old today.  Her days of being a baby have passed and already she's a toddler.  They've already missed so much.  I couldn't imagine being a grandparent and not being part of my grandchildren's memories.

I've mentioned to Bryan several times that we need to come up with a guest list for Ellie's First Holy Communion luncheon. Usually when I suggest sending an invitation to his family I am promptly shut down, but today I managed to convince him to extend an invitation. While we have been of the opinion that the ball is in their court so to speak with regards to them wanting or not wanting to be a part of our lives, I was able to express myself well enough to convince Bryan that extending an invitation to them would serve as a reminder that the choice to be involved or not to be involved is in their hands. We can't force anyone to come to us, but we can certainly extend an invitation. At any rate, the fact that Bryan has agreed to inviting his family feels like progress.

The interesting parallel that I have taken from this situation is that an estrangement like this is a lot like when you choose to separate yourself from God through sin, particularly a mortal sin.  God doesn't distance Himself from you, rather you distance yourself from Him.  In essence, you choose to sever the relationship.   That's how this estrangement feels to us.  We didn't choose to separate from his side of the family, rather, they chose to distance themselves from us.

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