My Own Personal Wampeter

“Love is where you find it. I think it is foolish to go looking for it, and I think it can often be poisonous.” –Kurt Vonnegut

Yesterday I was asked if it was ever a poor idea to send a condolences letter. I thought about it, and it was apt, because we were in Portland visiting family before the memorial service next month.

“Well,” I said. “I think if the presence of the condolences would insert an unpleasant person into your thoughts, if it’s really someone who’s not wanted, then it’s best not to express your condolences.”

The real question is, of which I was blissfully unaware at the time and therefore free to just make smug pronouncements, do unpleasant people know when they are not wanted? Of course not, because this is a very important facet of being unpleasant.

We arrived home from the store this morning and I looked in the mailbox. I had not checked it yesterday since we were traveling and out of town all day. There was a letter to Strudel’s father in there in disturbingly familiar handwriting. I thought for a minute.

Click…click…click…DING. Aw fux, it was my mother. PRESTO! What could be more timely or topical. It was like out of the Emily Post Casebook.

“I bet I know what this is,” I said, handing it over to him.

“This probably does not even need to come into the house,” he said, standing near the recycling bin. He ripped it open. “Yep.” He sighed and opened the bin’s lid, sending it off to its destiny to become toilet paper or something.

“Condolences? From the woman who is leaving me $100 in her will?”

“Yes,” he said.

What can you do with people who are so unpleasant they estrange others who could, if the situation and attitudes were only slightly different, cleave to them? I report, joylessly, that I sense some desperate scrabbling now that my mother has alienated her other daughter as well. Franny is really her last hope and since she’s got her hooks in via SeaFed’s insistence that she should know her grandmother, no matter how toxic, unpleasant, or undeserving she might be. No matter that no one else in the family will come within spitting distance. Based on past decisions, sometimes I think that SeaFed’s motivation in any given situation is simply to do the opposite of what I would do.

There is another thing, too–my mother has just been diagnosed with Graves’ Disease. Treatable, and manageable, and not my concern besides. Sadly the text she sent my sister informing her of this also said that she “might have cancer.” What is this crap? Who does this without knowing anything for certain and via TEXT? I might have cancer. We all “might” have cancer. I am also pre-med, as it turns out. Fuck me if I ever update my girls on serious health conditions via multiple texts. “LOL hernia TTYL”

I get into sharp disagreements with people who believe that family members are entitled to access by virtue of being blood relatives. How preposterous. Family needs to earn the right to be present in a person’s life, just like everyone else in the world. And I have a stronger opinion now than I did yesterday–political condolences are disgusting and helpful to no one.

In other news I’m kind of enjoying this super quick call and response thing I have going with the universe lately. It’s good for the diligent life-examiner on the go.

8 thoughts on “My Own Personal Wampeter

  1. Christ Jesus on the cross, some people always know how to make other people’s suffering and tragedy All About Them. Your mother seems to be one of those – always using other people’s issues to recreate her internal dialogue of the Long-Suffering Compassionate One, Beset Upon All Sides By Those Who Do Not Appreciate Her Care.

    I have no good answers, other than to affirm your reaction that blood relationships do not a family make. Cleave to those who actually care for you, rather than those to whom you are related by an accident of birth. Sometimes, miraculously, those two groups will heavily overlap. In cases that they don’t, save yourself rather than sacrifice yourself on the altar of family.

  2. Boo to your mom (she and my Stepmonster should get together and go duck hunting, or skydiving)… but three cheers for you!

  3. Family needs to earn the right to be present in a person’s life, just like everyone else in the world.


  4. Good lordy, mister morty. Is your mom a drama queen much? Maybe we all should be thanking her for helping us to feel superior but I’m still sorry that you have to deal with all of this. What an intrusive, violating thing to do, using your baby-daddy’s grief and her health non-issue as a weak attempt to garner sympathy.

    I don’t think she was genuine in sending the card, I think it was a dig. Cleverly disguised, who could possibly fault her this?

  5. I need Allison’s entire comment cross-stitched onto a sampler to hang in my living room.

    I’m sorry you have to bear the brunt of the Shitty-Letter-From-A-Family-Member, but I did mine in exactly the same way: straight into the garbage.

Comments are closed.