Monday, June 1, 2009

So I guess my dad isn't talking to me either?

An update on the family situation, now that I've been married for a whole two weeks.

The day after I got married, my Great Aunt Esther passed away suddenly in her sleep while in Israel for her grandson's Bar Mitzvah (she was 71 and had no health problems that we know of- they of course did not do an autopsy, in the Jewish tradition, so we will never know). I recently wrote about my Great Aunt Esther in this post; she joined facebook and became my facebook friend back in January, and asked about my engagement. I decided to gloss over the fact that B wasn't Jewish when responding to her. We chatted back and forth a few times on our facebook walls.

First a bit about my Great Aunt Esther. I have many great aunts and uncles on my mom's side of the family (my Dad's side of the family was decimated by the holocaust and later by the BRCA1 gene which killed all my great aunts on that side before I was born). Esther was my maternal grandfather's sister, and was one of the two great aunts that I visited on a regular basis when I was a child- probably because my mom was close with her daughter. I have many fond memories of running around her house as a kid. We hadn't really talked in around 10 years, but I was happy to recently reconnect with her via facebook. She was very excited about her recent retirement to Florida, and I know she was looking forward to her trip to Israel.

I learned about Aunt Esther's passing via a mass email that my dad sent out to 'undisclosed recipients' that said simply "Aunt Esther passed away yesterday in the early morning, the funeral was in Israel yesterday afternoon, Zaidy (what we call my grandfather) will be sitting shiva this week in Queens." I wrote back saying something like "I am very sorry to hear this, I had just recently been in touch with Aunt Esther recently. I know Zaidy and S (her daugher) were close to her, which of our other cousins are her children? I would like to send them sympathy cards" (I have a lot of "first cousins once removed" and can't really keep track of who gave birth to whom).

It's now been two weeks, no response.

I love when people just don't respond to things. For instance, here is an email I sent to my Aunt informing her about my engagement to B. I was pretty close with her at one point in time, and we spent many a family dinner snarking about the ultra-orthodox members of our family and the crazy things they were doing. Her response? Also no response.

I sent a sympathy message to Aunt Esther's daughter on facebook since I don't have her address- didn't get a response to that either, but that's of course understandable. I could have passed off that email thing with my dad as a fluke, but yesterday was my 27th birthday, and the one day a year my dad has always called me in the past was my birthday. This year? Nothing. Now it's possible that he just forgot to write back to that email two weeks ago, and forgot my birthday because my Mom wasn't reminding him about it.

But I think it's more likely that either one of two things is happening: A. Now that I actually went through with getting married he's very upset about it, and needs some time to adjust before talking to me again or B. He is not speaking to me anymore, but didn't bother informing me about it (I had been under the impression that he would continue speaking to me after getting married, but maybe I was wrong). Of course there is the ever present C option, that I'm just reading too much into things.

Anyway, it wasn't very nice to feel like my parents hate me and/or forgot me on my birthday, but what are you gonna do? I'll tell you what I did: took off for the shore with B and Barkley and had an awesome day watching Barkley running after waves that were retreating into the ocean (sniffing them becuase he thought they were alive?) and then freaking out when new waves were coming and running out of the surf. Sometimes he would just stand there while the waves crashed over his legs, but then would freak out when they were retreating and run out (I guess he felt the undertow). It may have been his first ever trip to the Ocean- and it was my first trip in over 3 years.

After we got tired of running around in the waves (and building sea turtles out of sand and shells) we spent a few hours walking up and down the boardwalk and eating fun things like fudge and salt water taffy and good pizza- we even got Barkley some fancy yogurt dipped doggie treats. Everyone on the boardwalk kept stopping us to ask if they could pet Barkley, cause he's the most adorable dog in the universe. All in all, a good birthday.

Even better? A week ago I also got an email from my Charedi (ultra-orthodox) cousin, telling my about Aunt Esther's passing. She also sent me a long email update about her kids and wished me a happy birthday- she said something about how she missed the annual bbq we always had for my birthday in the past, and that's how she knew my birthday was coming up. So I guess my parents didn't throw their annual memorial day bbq this year? That's kinda sad for them...I don't want them to throw away all their family traditions because of me, and I don't think it's necessary at all. :( They have never skipped having a memorial day BBQ since I was born...and it's not like I've been there for every bbq in the past, so I don't know why they would stop having them because I'm not around (even though it's technically for my birthday, there's a bunch of other family birthdays around then too..).

I wrote back to my cousin and sent her some wedding pictures, and she reciprocated with some more of her kid's pictures. It's really nice to have at least some family members who still treat me like part of the family. I never expected to. And of course I now have an awesome new family that I'm a part of. :)

P.S. My husband has a great post up today about violence


  1. YOU had a great post. You're attitude handeling this situation is incredibly commendable. Happy birthday!
    But, can you PLEASE clear one thing up??? How do you become a cousin once removed?? That has always stumped me;)

  2. Happy birthday! I know I'm just someone out here in the ether but I hope that knowing that your words are being read and you're being heard is some very minor consolation. I'm glad you enjoyed your birthday and here's to many more in the future!

  3. Hi AE
    I know it is hard. But time helps. (And, of course, B, friends and his family)

    So I think you made the best you could of a shitty situation that is about to get better every day/year...

    ...because transformations are part of life, and there will be a time, were you will not care any more whether you got a birthday ring/card from your parents: It's just a question of habit...

  4. Happy birthday, Ms. Eden. I am glad you had a joyful one with your pup and your husband. Are you used to that yet? Saying...husband?

  5. Happy Birthday AE!

    Anonymous - the 'cousin first removed' thing goes like this:

    You have a cousin, let's pretend it's a female cousin and let's pretend you're a woman. Let's also pretend that you two are first cousins because your mothers (yours and hers) are/were sisters. (Let's make everyone female here - it's much easier.) You get married (or not) and have a daughter. Your daughter and your first cousin are 'first cousins once removed.' Then your cousin gets married (or not) and has a daughter - you and your cousin's daughter are 'first cousins once removed.'
    BTW - your daughter and your first cousin's daughter are 'second cousins.'
    I hope I explained this properly.

  6. anon- a first cousin once removed is one of my parent's first cousins. Or one of my first cousin's kids. :)

    Faith- Thanks!!

    Shoshi- I DID get an awesome "Happy birthday daughter in law" from my parents in law today! It had a really sweet poem thing about how "Their family has been treated to a special kind of happiness because of you." They are awesome :)

    Ms Moon- Nope, I'm not used to it yet, but it's super fun/weird every time I get to say it! :)

    Hope- You got it! :)

  7. Let your parents go. You've made your choices, so why don't you take responsibility for the consequences that go along with them (losing your family), and respect your parents' choices too.

  8. I don't see how I'm not respecting my parents choices or taking responsibility for my own- It's not like I'm calling them or showing up at their door trying to get them to talk to me.

  9. You aren't forcing them to accept you, but you are angry and upset at them and sad about their rejection. In your situation, one of the consequences of marrying someone who isn't Jewish is losing your family. You knew that going in. Why are you even upset at them at all for reacting exactly the way you expected? For your own sake and peace of mind, let them go. You abandoned eden, meaning religious practices you no longer believe in and your parents who embrace these things. You chose your husband over your parents. Your parents chose their God over you. Respect each others choices. You both need to let it go. You are like someone who keeps putting quarters in a broken payphone and gets disappointed every time it doesnt work.

    You did this. You chose this. Now you need to accept it.

  10. Even though I chose this path, I think I have the right to be upset over the way other people have chosen to react to it. It's not like I'm a robot and can just instantly turn off my feelings...jebus.

  11. Hmmm....I guess it's been so long since my parents and their cousins were alive, that I forgot that the 'first cousin once removed thing' works both up and down the family tree - the way I described it yesterday, I just described the downward way, not the upward way (through a person's parents' cousins).

  12. It's hard, but remember what helped me when I got married:
    Your parents are your past.
    Your husband is your future.

  13. if you feel like calling your zaid, it's good to stay in touch after shiva. people don't stop grieving. there are non-religious things you can do for someone like help them scan family pictures into the computer and stuff, too, if you feel like going that far.


Anonymous comments are enabled for now