So I have told you about my mother. What I’d like to do now is go over the events of that day. Trigger warning for abusive behaviour. And if any of my family read this…absolutely no fucking apologies. Learn some fucking respect for others.
Let’s start with my family. I am the youngest of 4 boys. Eldest brother A is 8 years older than me. Next brother B is 6 years older, brother C is 3 years older. Brother A kinda took on the father figure because none of us had any connection to dad. Brother B led a troubled life. This was in part due to dad being overseas for the first 6 months of his life. Various other issues led him to being a serious drug addict and skinhead. His idea of a fun night out…well…you can imagine. Brother C was closest to me emotionally.
Nephew and niece (both brother A’s children) led a troubled life. Both battled drug addiction. Niece managed to escape when she found out she was pregnant and turned her life around. She managed to leave the father of her child – a man who was abusive. Nephew…well…he didn’t. A gang associate, who physically assaulted his partner on numerous occasions, tried to drag niece back into the bad life, and brought his gang associations into her life. But still she resisted.
I had taken the day off work and had planned to visit my mum because her condition was rapidly deteriorating. the phone rang at about 6:30am. Nobody ever rings us on our landline. Except for telemarketers and my mum. So when I climbed out of bed to answer it, we both knew what would follow.
Sure enough, brother C was on the line and said that Mum had passed away an hour earlier, and that maybe we want to come up to say Hi. Due to a late night, I was already shattered and not really in any state to drive to the rest home where she was. So I went back to bed. After a few hours sleep, my wife and I finally got up and had some breakfast before heading up.
When we arrived, the whanau was already assembled. The four boys, nephew, niece and her (new and utterly awesome) partner.
It was all very pleasant for a while. Well, as pleasant as you can expect given the circumstance. But then the conversation turned to what to do with Mum’s clothes. Niece considered giving them to Women’s Refuge. I strongly supported this, given the family history. Had Mum had the support of an organisation like Women’s Refuge when I was a baby, she would not have suffered half of what she did.
Brother A’s reaction was a bit of a shock. In retrospect, not in the least surprising. He vehemently opposed the idea. He stated that there was no way whatsoever that her clothes were going there, stating that the Refuge have destroyed more families than they have saved. I had to catch my darling wife’s eye and gently shook my head. As much as I wanted to take him on over this, it just wasn’t the right time or place. So we just let it go for the moment.
Shortly later, niece had to leave. Something told me she just needed to get away from all that shit.
Then conversation turned to various things. Brother A started telling work stories. These are stories that are apparently really important for us to hear, even though we’ve heard it hundreds of times before.
Now, the almost funny thing here is that all this was a very strong mirror of an event that happened many years earlier.
Anyway, his story involved someone who was a funeral director who started to embalm a body…one that started bleeding. Of course, dead bodies don’t bleed. This guy’s family was known to ours. It wasn’t the best of relationships. I went to school with the guy, and we sometimes got on OK, usually not.
This event understandably had a dramatic effect on the man. He attempted suicide more than once. I remember reading about it at the time. And for all the animosity that once existed between us, my heart went out to this guy.
THEN, as Brother A continued, his wife embezzled money from a lot of people. And this is where things got nasty.
There were a few things we apparently HAD to know.
- She was a volunteer firefighter
- As you would expect, there were pictures of naked women around the station
- She always changed into her “Level Ones” at the station while all the men changed into them at home.
Then he stated explaining, in a scoffing tone, about how she was talking about bringing a sexual harassment complaint against some of the other vollies. This brought some comments from those family members with a violent past. And present.
Then the comment that just astounded me. Remember, in the room is the body of a woman who grew up in an abusive family, lived with a psychologically abusive husband, a man whose daughter lived in an abusive relationship, and his son who is an abuser.
Brother K stated that he went around to this woman’s home and told her that if she proceeded with the complaint she would deeply regret it, her family would regret it, and that she would be best if she and her family just left town. Now.
I had no idea how to respond to that. All I could do was take the hand of my wife and leave, with some excuse of having to get some food. I knew the Mum’s funeral director would be coming shortly, but as we were told she would just be taken away, we saw no point in staying.
We had promised to take brother B home, and went back to pick him up after we had recovered, but he had already been taken home by brother C. At later meetings there were little jibes from brother A about how “we would have known this if we had been there to talk it over with the director”.
All I can say is that I am glad Mum has gone. Partly because she is free from all her pain, but because she does not have to witness this shit. And also that it means I no longer have any particular need to associate with those elements of my family that engage in this offensiveness.