My mother died yesterday - and yet this needs to be here in The Pit

I didn’t know if this should be here or the Mundane Stuff, but since I’m not feeling too civil this is probably the right place.

I learned through a cousin that my mother died yesterday morning at 10:30. My mother and brother hadn’t talked to me in over 10 years because I’m Gay, so I wasn’t expecting it to hit me so hard, but I’m a mess. I guess somewhere inside I always hoped that she would finally deal with it, but it never happened. So, tonight was visitation, and tomorrow my mother is going to be buried thousands of miles away from here. Without me being there.

When I spoke with my cousin, she told me that in the last while, when my mother knew the end was coming, she talked about me a great deal, and said that she respected me for standing my ground and being who I was. That was the first nice thing I heard my mother say about me since I came out in 1978. Even though I never heard it from her directly, I break down every time I think of it.

However, my sadness at my mother’s passing is nothing compared to my anger at my brother and his wife. My brother and his wife, who told my mother after my father died in 2001 that they weren’t going to drive her around, and forced her to start driving at 75. The woman hadn’t driven since the 1960’s.

My brother and his wife - who decided my mother needed to go into a nursing home this year at 86, and brought a dumpster to her house and threw out everything in it, then sold the house. The house my father built by himself in 1950, and my mother lived in for 61 years. My brother didn’t call to let me know, or ask if I might want anything, and never even bothered to call and tell me that my mom was sick.

My brother, the “Christian”, who couldn’t bother to let me know about my mother’s death, and went as far as putting an obituary in the local newspaper, listing himself and his wife and then adding me on as an afterthought without mentioning my husband/partner of 23 years. Then adding “the family would appreciate donations to the Salvation Army” in the obituary – a religion my mother had no connection with – and a religion that works against Gay and Lesbian rights. The family? There are only two of us, and I wasn’t even consulted.

So along with not going to the funeral, I got to spend time today writing up an “In Memorium” ad and paying hundreds of dollars to have it run for two days in her local newspaper. An ad with her picture from my parents’ wedding in 1942, and a note asking people to donate money to the Church she attended from the time she got married in until she died. And I even put in my brother’s name along with his wife’s name, although it was tempting to leave her off – oh and my name and my husband’s name.

And as much as I’d like to say I took the high road, I didn’t. I knew there was a viewing tonight, so called the funeral home and asked for my brother. When he answered I told him he was a total scumbag, and a poor excuse for a Christian. I found myself using words I haven’t used in years., and when he started to try to blame me for things, I told him he was a fucking asshole and hung up. Childish, but somehow satisfying.

I guess in a few weeks I’ll fly cross-continent just to go see her grave, cry some more and move on – a lot like what I’ve had to do my whole life.

Daffyd, I hear ya. I’ve got no great words of wisdom or advice, but I wish you and your partner some peace and some healing from what will be some difficult weeks and months ahead.

All the best, from some weird internet stranger in Australia

kam :slight_smile:

I wonder, why is it that so many times it’s relative strangers who tell you your parents were proud of you, rather than the parent?

If you’ll allow me a direct translation of a sentence that didn’t make sense until my father died, “I share your feelings.”

I have no wise words to console you in your loss, Daffyd, only my deepest sympathy to your and your husband.

My uncle (Dad’s brother’s husband, even if not legally) had the same thing go on in his family, and it never made sense to me. Sure, a lot of my family believes homosexuality to be a sin, but that has nothing to do with how much we care about either uncle. The only reason my non-biological uncle has gotten back with his family is that he is dying (of alcohol-inspired kidney failure. Doctors don’t know why he’s still alive.)

ETA: And, of course, my deepest sympathies for you and yours. I can’t imagine losing my mother, and I don’t want to try.

Jeez - it’s hard enough losing someone without family members going out of their way to act like assholes.

I’m sorry this happened - all my sympathy goes out to you.

So very sorry for your loss that began a decade ago. Anger is to be expected but try not to hold onto it too long if you can help it. It’s very destructive on relationships and your health. Forgiveness is so difficult but so therapeutic.

FYI, I consider myself fairly enlightened and I never knew that the Salvation Army was anti-gay. So I wouldn’t be positive that that was a slam directed at you.

As far as the caregiving aspect, I know a lot of people who’ve ended up being caregivers for their parents. Usually the ones who are physically the closest to the parent end up bearing the bulk of the burden. My feelings are that unless the long-distance children are willing to take on more of the day-to-day burden, they should not criticize the one who’s doing 95% of the work. Be grateful for what your brother and his wife did do for your mom, whom you loved despite the fact that she broke your heart, instead of focusing on what you think they did wrong.

After all you weren’t the one carting her around all day, so it’s rather unreasonable of you to be angry at them for wanting her to drive herself. Since you weren’t there to assess whether she was physically and/or mentally capable of taking care of herself at the age of 86, you don’t have any ground to criticize them for selling her stuff and moving her into a nursing home.

So let go of it. It wasn’t your deal, and it wasn’t your decision.

In other words, you can’t enjoy the upside of estrangement, which is feeling justified in not helping to care for your ailing mother for the last 11 years, then expect to be included in decisions involving her – her house, her care, her funeral, her obituary, and now her will. Your brother earned the right to be the decision maker because he was the one who was there. Honor that right.

Deaths can either bring families together or tear them apart. You didn’t take the high road when you had a chance, but you’re both still around. You don’t have to continue a day-to-day relationship with people who make you feel like shit about yourself, but that doesn’t mean you have to engage in open warfare with them either. Even if you can’t forgive him now for shutting you out of his life, try not to make it worse now. After all, you’re BOTH grieving over the loss of your mom now. Maybe in a few months, you’ll both discover that you love each other more than you hate each other and can find some common ground again upon which to build a relationship. Age and wisdom can do wonders to mellow people out. And life is too short to spend estranged from people based on nothing but whom they’ve chosen to love. I hope your brother can see that. Sounds like your mom was coming to that realization when she died. I’m sorry she didn’t stick around long enough to mend that rift so that you could have more peace.

I’m so sorry for all that lost time and the disintegration of your family. Thinking of you and your husband.

He wasn’t allowed to, never had the chance.

It’s been 15 years since my paternal grandmother died. It was a Saturday, March 25th. I had called home that morning: I called every two weeks.

I found out Grandma had died two weeks after she died, because my father deferred all communication with me to my mother and she couldn’t be arsed lift the phone, call, say “call me” and hang up. I still remember the clothes I was wearing on the day I did get the news…

Yes, Daffyd does have grounds to criticise.

Daffyd, I’m so sorry for the pain this is causing you and your husband.

My heart goes out to you. It is so tragic that people can be so cruel and thoughtless toward their fellow man, especially when it’s family and the anger and resentment is so hard to deal with. Please find solace in those words of pride from your mother. I completely understand your anger and don’t blame you a bit for telling him what you think> I do hope that for your own sake and the sake of those who love you , you can find some way to let it go as much as possible.

Best wishes,

I’m sorry for your loss Daffyd.

It’s possible as your mother aged, she gained a better perspective, learned to accept you as you are, and regretted the way she treated you. From what your cousin said, she certainly started down this path. Who can know how far she got? Take some comfort from that.

Some times the high road is overrated. I think you did fine, you said what needed to be said, and you did it directly. Now you can start to move on from it. If you hadn’t called, you might have spent years wishing you had.

Thanks everyone for the comments - even the criticism. I just checked, and the In Memorium ad I put in the local paper is there and online with the picture we sent. Since her funeral is today, it somehow seems appropriate that it’s there.

And CaveMike, I’m sort of glad I called my brother and told him what I think of him - I think I probably would have carried around anger and resentment for years, like I’d done before that over how I was treated by my “family”. Now I can go back to my real family - my husband and close friends here in California who see me as me and not as someone to look down on.

You handled this a whole shit-ton better than I ever would have. My thoughts are with you.

Daffyd, I’m sorry about your mom. I couldn’t stand my in-laws, so after my husband died I embraced the opportunity to shake their dust from my feet. But even though my dislike of them was justified, that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy to have that unfinished business lurking in the back of my head. I felt guilt and a weird wish that somehow things could be like in normal families and that the death of a mutual loved one could somehow bring us together instead of apart and… and… and…

Your situation is so much harder than mine in that you were estranged from your mom, but take heart in your cousin’s words. Your mom respected you, even if she didn’t say it to your face. Maybe she couldn’t have said so to your face, but you at least get to know that she didn’t shake your dust from her feet. You still had significance for her, and a place in her conscience. You mattered to her, and you still matter to others, even if all of your relationships can’t be the way you think they should be.

I’m sorry for your loss.

I’m very sorry about your mother’s death and your brother’s inconsiderate actions. When my dad died, the family (four sisters, husbands, and my mom, who was just divorced from him) all went to his house to try to straighten things out physically, financially, legally, etc. (he drank himself to death) and plan the funeral and stuff, I ended up fighting with my oldest sister. It turns out that I was right about everything I said that she didn’t agree with, but I’m sure I could have found a better way to get my points across (or just let things go). People don’t always act right when a family member dies; I don’t think my sister’s intent was to make things even harder for me, and I know mine wasn’t to make things harder for her.

Maybe you’ll reconcile with your brother some day, maybe not. My relationship with my sister has gotten worse since then, due to other factors. Only you know if reconciling is possible with you retaining your self-respect; if it isn’t, that happens, too. Not all families are close and loving, as you know. Love the people who are worth loving and try not to let the rest get to you too much.

Good for you.

It’s hard enough admitting you were wrong–doing it to the face of the person you were wrong about is even harder. Especially when that wrongness drove a big wedge between you.

I’d say it’s pretty well known. I haven’t put any money in their Christmas buckets in years.

My sympathies, Daffy. Some families just suck.

Just because they share a few more genes with you doesn’t mean they get a free pass to treat you like shit. You know who your true family is, and you have friends among us Internet strangers.

It sounds like you’re mourning both the death of your mother and the death of the possibility that your relationship might improve, and that’s a lot to process at the same time. Warm wishes and good luck from one voice in the cosmos.

You have my sympathies, Daffyd. I have no real idea how you must be feeling and therefore can’t offer any useful advice. But it seems to me the silver lining in all this is that now that your mother is gone, so is your only link to your asshole brother. It sounds like your life will be better if you never have to see or speak to him or his wife ever again.

I think you should beat up your brother