My mother-in-law will turn 90 in a few months. Yes, that's right, 90. Probably older than most of your grandmothers! So of course, our minds have turned to the big event. The social organisers of the family - the sisters-in-law (of course) - have had discussions, and plans were hatched. But they all depended on Brother No. 1 (with apologies for the insensitive but in some ways surprisingly apt Khmer Rouge reference). Brothers #1, #3, and #4 have all lived overseas for many years, but #3 and #4 both return much more regularly. Brother #2, my husband, lives here, only a short distance away from his parents, and in recent years has felt that we can't really move because they are aging and becoming more needy. I've whined about this from time to time .And so, emails were sent, and efforts made to see if all brothers could get together. Unsurprisingly, these were unsuccessful.
Scene set. Father-in-law sent out an email noting that it was unlikely to happen. He feels sad - he believes he will die without ever having all his sons together in the same room again, and this belief was the main impetus behind our efforts to get the brothers together. I feel sad for him. But then he lost me. He said in his email that the prime reason for a get-together would be seeing all the grandchildren get together - cousin meeting cousin. Not a celebration of his wife's longevity (he's a good deal younger). Not the opportunity to see all his sons together again under the same roof. No, it was the next generation.
And yes, as my husband pointed out (and I knew this but I wanted a
whine), my father-in-law reflects on his life and worries about the
"continuation of his line." And yes, I do still feel sorry for him that
he doesn't have his sons and his grandchildren around him. Heck, he
only has 50% in the same hemisphere. I get that. I do. He's old, and sad.
But still. Ouch. Unintentional as it might be, the snub hurts. Clearly, our attendance is largely superfluous. Irrelevant. The last 13 years, when we've been the only relatives left in the country, feel as if they count for nothing. Because we didn't produce grand-children. And, after all the efforts I made to try to arrange this reunion, after taking the risk that Brother No. 1 would blame me for pressuring him to return, after the time and energy and frustration that I have invested in this family, in keeping them in contact with each other, in ensuring that the grandparents actually see some of their grand-kids, that hurt.
The irony is that, completely unrelated to any of this, my husband and I are hatching a plan that might mean we won't be around at the time of the proposed reunion. And despite my hurt, I still feel guilty about that. Guilty as charged - childless with a conscience; a conscientious irrelevance. No kidding.
Time for a drink.
Disclaimer: This was written when I was hurt. I know I shouldn't write posts when I'm hurt - so don't be surprised if I delete this tomorrow!