Weddings, birthdays, funerals and christenings

The title of this blog post is a little bit misleading because it’s not specifically about weddings, birthdays, funerals and christenings. Instead I was talking to someone today about how sometimes you generally only see certain family members at weddings, birthdays, funerals or christenings (or any other special occasion).

I will have been to 3 weddings by the end of this year. One happened recently, the other is a friend getting married this Saturday and the third one is a family member in October.

The one in October is the one that makes me think the most. Not because of the person getting married (my cousin) or who she is married to but the fact it will be the first time my brother has seen my dad in 2 years. The last time they spoke was at my nan’s funeral.

The relationship between my dad and brother isn’t something that I talk about with to a lot of people. Some of my close friends know and a couple of my family members. My brother is almost 4 years older than me and since our mum died over 24 years ago, the relationship between my dad and brother hasn’t been smooth to say the least.

As a widower faced with raising two kids aged 9 and 13 years old, I can’t even imagine what my dad went through. I do know we probably didn’t make it easy for him. He probably did compensate with gifts and holidays abroad which may have made us spoilt but I also think he did his best in the circumstances. We had aunties around who were there and my nan and grandma were always there as well.

As a teenager, I can remember the arguments where my brother used to slam his door. As he got older that became the slam of a car door as he became more independent and my dad bought him a car. I can also remember the time we went to america for a month travelling across the state, and I can remember us all being happy.

As my dad remarried and my brother went away to uni, I guess that was the first time I could clearly see the cracks in their relationship that made it harder and harder to paper over. My brother has never had the same relationship that I have had with my stepmum but I don’t think that is anything strange, after all i lived in the same house for another 3 years whereas he had moved out to university. Also we bonded over girls shopping days out.

As the years went on, they gradually drifted further and further apart. My brother went through a difficult period of his life finally getting help through counselling and medication. He sorted out his debts and got married. Despite the fact I don’t agree with how he treats my dad, I’m proud of him for sorting his life out, at least financially.

The difficulty is I don’t understand how things got this way. Part of it is because I think my dad is amazing. But I also know that he is human and, like most people, may have done things differently with hindsight. I lost my mum in a time when bereavement counselling (or counselling in general) wasn’t as accessible. Even though it is difficult now, it was never talked about and was never even raised. Perhaps my brother blames my dad for that but I don’t think he should.

So, the wedding is my cousin, my mum’s sisters daughter. My mum’s side of the family has remained close and my auntie is probably the one person (other than my nan) who my brother listens to. In the weeks after my mum died, as it was the summer holidays, we literally spent days there as my dad eventually had to return to work.

I don’t think they will speak. There will be no awkward conversation. There will be no conversation. I’ll be there with my husband and the likelihood is I will be sat at a table with my dad and stepmum. My nan always said to me, as long as you keep the relationship with both of them, that is important and I have I think. So I’ll spend the time flitting between the two groups, probably getting upset at the end of the evening but probably resigning myself to the fact that no matter what I say, the only two who can make the relationship change is them.

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