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Family Reunion
So, today was the big family reunion at my aunt's house on Long Island.  It was certainly an interesting experience, to say the least.

First off,  when my aunt remarried about 15 or 20 years ago, she married rich.  Rich.  So the house is just amazing, huge and beautiful and so incredibly decorated.  (And Dad says this is nothing compared to their Florida houses.)  There was a large turnout, somewhere between 40 and 50 people.  It was all very pleasant, talking with relatives we've seen in the last year, meeting the more extended family who don't all even live in New York or New Jersey.

The only bit of tension, for my part of the family, was the fact that my dad's brother Jerry was there.  Dad was estranged from his family for a very long time.  It goes back to stuff that happened a long time, when I was a kid.  A lot of that was due to my mother.  She never liked my father's family.  Something happened between my mom and the family, something to do with my grandmother that I'm not going to go into, because it's so personal, but I always took my mother's side of the story as the truth.  Then on Father's Day this year, when we were all having breakfast at my sister's, my father told us the real story, which I had never heard, and was completely different, and proved that my aunt and uncles were probably right.  Mom had a lot of secrets, apparently.

This issue was never really resolved, but it was put behind everyone and we all moved on.  The next problem came to a head when I was in my late teens and very early twenties.  My paternal grandmother could no longer live on her own, and was going to move into a home.  My aunt thought all 4 siblings should help pay for it.  That is technically fair, but it doesn't account for personal issues.  She was married to a millionaire.  We were barely making ends meet.  Thanks to problems with credit cards and the IRS, my parents' bank account was frozen and my father's paycheck was garnished.  We had NO money.  My sister was working at the cold cuts company where I later worked, and we would  have gone without dinner some of the time if she hadn't brought home free samples.  There was simply no way my father could contribute several hundred dollars a month for his mom's upkeep.  My aunt was furious, and told my father- "see if I even call you when she dies."  And you know what- she didn't.  We found out she passed several years after, from an extended family tree a cousin sends out every year.

Part of this was my father's own fault- even if he couldn't help pay for the home, he should have gone to see her, and he never did.  I think it was because he was ashamed, or because of my mom, or maybe a combination of both.  But whatever it was, it's now in the past.  Dad is reconciled with most of his family, except the one brother.  It hasn't been an issue really, because this brother hasn't come to any family events.  Today he did.  He was very nice to me and my sister, as he always has been, and his wife was kind and sweet to all of us, even Dad.  But when I asked Uncle Jerry if he would talk to Dad, his answer was a flat "no" and nothing else.  When my cousin Julie tried to take a picture with the three of us and her mother, she asked Jerry to be in it.  He started walking over, saw Dad, and then turned on his heel and walked away.

I doubt there's anything that can be done at this point.  Jerry is in his early 70s, and I don't see him changing his mind.  I know Dad was hurt, but he put it aside and just enjoyed the reunion, which was actually pretty wonderful in spite of that.  Great food, great conversation with relatives I only knew by name, or not even that.  Of course, it was still brutally hot, and most of the food was served outside, so I came home with a bit of a sunburn. 


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Family! Don't you just feel the urge sometimes to knock heads together and tell everyone to please grow up? Still, don't give up. Your uncle could still change.

It's bizarre to hear the words "brutally hot". If you can believe it, I've worn a jacket almost every day I've been in Scotland, and there were times (like the boat trip on Loch Ness and yesterday in Aberdeen) when a nice wool scarf and gloves wouldn't have been out of place. I have to keep reminding myself that it's the middle of the summer!

I hope he does change. But to be honest, it doesn't seem likely. There were a lot of people in a relatively small area, and a couple of times he and Dad were back to back, or even right next to each other, and he wouldn't say the slightest word to Dad. he's the stubborn sort, Dad says.

Loch Ness, huh? Did you see the monster?

Are you going to Edinburgh, and will you see any of the castles there?

I'm still not jealous of your trip, by the way. *Glares at you*

Wow. That's a very long grudge to hold. People sadden me. I mean, all the time that gets wasted, all the good times and good memories that are missed because of a grudge. It's so sad. And unneccessary.

I'm happy that you had a good time anyway. Take care of your sunburn! Aloe's good.

And so are loving family members!

Life is so short. Watching my mother die reinforced that to me. When Jerry's first wife died, Dad drove out to Pennsylania to visit him. Jerry couldn't even be bothered to acknowledge it. He must know, because I was talking with his son, my cousin Jason, about it. But I guess what's done is done- Dad's done what he can. He's established ties with his relatives, but Jerry has no interest in reconciling, and I don't think Dad can do anything to change it. he's close to his other siblings again, and that's important.

Sunburn's not so bad, thank goodness!

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