Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gluing the Broken Family China Together

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.”
― Barbara Bloom

My father died around last Christmas last year. It was a tough period for me personally which perhaps doesn't come as a surprise. What was a surprise to me was to see how much emotional turmoil there was in the entire family as a consequence. On occasions we fought like cats and dogs. 

I normally stay in hotels when I visit my family, but to be closer to my mom during that time I stayed at my sister's place which turned out to be a big mistake given that her husband felt uncomfortable having me there. We suddenly had financial fights during this period as well. I insisted that my mother pays me my share of the inheritance because I wanted a little security blanket her her. She wanted to give it to my siblings instead because she felt they needed it more than she would.

The emotional strain became too much for my mother and she started acting completely out of character. Just to give one strange example, we went to a store together that had repaired her watch. She got the change money and left. Afterwards she told me that the owner had given her two euros too much, so she kept it, whereas I told her that it is her duty to return it. We had another fight about this little incident.

When the funeral ceremony was over I left completely exhausted with all the criticism and fighting. Six months later I visited them again, this time back to my old ways of living in the hotel. My mother claimed that she had no memories of the endless fights we had. One day in particular was full of healing moments. 

My mother, sister and I went shopping, and as we were passing the watch maker's shop I found a two euro coin in my pocket and gave it to my mother. We had a happy breakfast in the same bakery that I left full of anger six months earlier over a fight with my mom. Later the entire family had a dinner at an Italian restaurant where six months early my brother-in-law stormed out mad at all of us. Lastly, thanks to my little financial intervention at that time, we were able to rearrange the finances in a way that made everyone happy.

Leaving my hometown this time around, it was almost as if these tumultuous two weeks didn't exist. The SPIRIT took some super glue and put the family China together, and it is as good as new. Reflecting on the two weeks of pain earlier this year, apparently all the ghosts had to come out from under the bed because of the heavy emotional toll a death in the family takes. But that doesn't mean that you can't open the window the next day and let the sunshine in. 

I hope this note can encourage others to heal some strained family bonds. There is always a WAY.

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