Immanent Domain

Saturday, October 6. 2007
On December 24th, 1998 I drove with my wife and children to my mother's house for the traditional Christmas Eve gathering of friends and family. I was so angry at everyone the year before, I skipped the 1997 gathering even though my wife and children went and visited with all the folks without me.  When they returned home they brought back a wrapped gift for me from my mother, but just like the birthday card she sent me in November that same year, I never opened it.

Even before we were married, my wife always enjoyed the Christmas Eve gatherings and, of course, my children loved the entire occasion. A decade earlier --well before the family ship had been scuttled-- it had been a visit I enjoyed, too, but as life ticked through my twenties and thirties, each visit felt more like a task completed, than a comforting holiday renewal.

That Christmas Eve was the last task I ever completed at my mother's house.  My mother cheerfully greeted all of us at the front door and invited us in to visit; my sister and her minions immediately shrank to another part of the house and didn't emerge until after we left. The complete severance of all ties even at Christmas among my sister, her legions, and me that evening was the end of the holiday celebrations at my mother's house.  I heard through my son that she ended the Christmas gatherings that year. and never had another.

As the first anniversary of my mother's death approaches, and the holiday season winds around again, I try and remember the better times I had with all of my family.  It isn't easy to let go of the anger and find something of meaning that isn't  easily dismissed.  It looks like I have a new task for this Christmas.

Forgotten

Wednesday, August 1. 2007
Nine months after her funeral and burial, my mother's grave lies unmarked. The new grass grown this spring is slowly melting into the colors of last year's growth and blending into the same green shroud that covers my father's and my grandmother's graves.

Of course, there are memorial plaques for my father and grandmother --nametags for the dead. Those markers have the usual name, year of birth, and year of death dates. My father's plaque has "82nd Division WWII" cut into the copper surface, too. After he died, my mother and I agreed that it was a simple way to memorialize the time spent in service that lead to his award of the Bronze Star. For me, it symbolized the quiet hero who never spoke of the action he saw in the coral caves of the Phillipine Islands. It was a tribute to a man who simply did what he had to do, without applause, every day of his life.

There is no name-tag for my mother, no date she was born, and no year she died. There are the remains of an impersonal bouquet of artificial flowers, a flag, and a Memorial Day Poppy my son and I placed on the grave in May. When the new Spring grass finally joins the growth that surrounds my father and grandmother's markers, and when the cemetery's caretaker clears the fragments of the decorations, her grave will become just be another patch of green and no one will ever, again, be the wiser.

Silence

Sunday, July 29. 2007

"Why not take a strong act of showing you're not afraid to say something, and see what happens? I don't mean anything like an apology. You have a point of view that's as valid as anyone's. Why let someone take that away from you by being silent?"

That is what my uncle wrote to me in an e-mail on December 18th, 2006. He didn't know I had an appointment with a lawyer the next day or that I might be persuaded to attempt some type of assured family destruction by tossing such low-lifes at my sister's entire faction.

Bill was encouraging me to write an open letter to my fractured family and include everyone in the address list. The expression of my point-of-view, undone for a decade, had begun to leak out in some conversations we had after my mother had died and continued to gain some volume through a Thanksgiving visit he and his children, my cousins, made back East.

The drafts of that letter-of explanation were many; their content very difficult to write. After many drafts that I discarded, I sent an edition to him that he considered too toxic to use. I agreed, and toned it down as much as I could. We finally agreed, in February 2007, on a version that was likely to be more fit for a family audience.

I sent that e-mail to everyone in my family for whom I had an e-mail address as quickly as I could. The possibility of me losing my nerve or desire to send it at all was something I was quite aware of, but send it, I did. On February 18, 2007 (the 34th anniversary of my sister's second marriage) Bill sent a letter to most of that same group in which he presented his own thoughts about what had happened among all of the family members from the time we were children through adulthood and, for those that passed, death.

I'm not certain of all the purposes that might have been served by my letter or my uncle's response. I think that spurring some interaction among the recipients was an anticipated outcome. But, the only interaction I have seen has been between my uncle and me.

The oracles are silent, so far.

106 Green Grove Road... Price reduced again

Wednesday, July 25. 2007
106 GREEN GROVE ROAD, OCEAN

HAS BEEN REDUCED TO: $575,000 (FROM $599,000)

EFFECTIVE TODAY

THIS HOUSE HAS BEEN ON THE MARKET FOR 79 DAYS

Of course that effective date was about a week ago -- 85 days and counting, now.

The local realty multiple listing service helps keep me up to speed in the family's material largesse.

The property above was partitioned off in 1996 from my mother and father's home and sentenced to drift off into another family's hands by the incompetent devices of my sister's kin.

I had to go to a lawyer to get my mother's will probated even though the family spin engineers had me expunged 10 years before her death. My children were included in my mother's raided, non-existent estate, though what she bequeathed them was re-purposed by my loathsome sister a long time ago. The attorney I visited advised me to take action against the entire family, the will, and the entire title transfer process. It became clear that the only course of action was to try and grab it all or go without a thing. My children (and my wife) only wanted a few personal mementoes and photographs of grandparents and in-laws. I don't doubt that group's anxious liquidation of all properties scrambles before that swooping legal action lands.

I expect that all the properties that the legal effort might realize, will return all the happiness that the materialistic vermin deserve.

The Last Saturday in October

Monday, July 16. 2007

I hadn't spoken to my mother since November, 1999, and even then it was just a hello on the telephone.  I passed the handset to my son and moved on.  In 2002, my uncle asked me if I would try and talk to my mother, but I never spoke to her again.

I stayed awake all night before my mother's funeral.  A long time before that night, I had decided not to attend.  I couldn't stand my own hypocrisy if I had. Funerals aren't for the dead; they are for those who remain and I was no part of their remains, anymore.  But even though I had thought about how it could affect my own immediate family, I wasn't prepared for how much loss my children and my wife felt. I dreaded going into that church, seeing and being seen by those people for whom I had such hard feelings; not going would  be worse, though.  My wife and kids would try and go by themselves.  I couldn't let them go by themselves and feel the rejection that was meant for me.

We sat off to the side and near the back of the church auditorium, my sister's minions sat in the front and dead center.  My uncle sat with my estranged family and spoke to the gathering about my mother and his life with her.  Other people spoke about my mother and their memories of her and my father.  Hymns were sung and silent prayers were offered.  My wife, my children, a very close friend and I drove out to the cemetery for the interment without following the hearse or the procession of the others.

In the wake of the wake

Sunday, July 15. 2007

My uncle came back east for my mother's funeral.

On Thursday, October 27th, he stopped by my home and took my two sons and my daughter to lunch.  They shared their grief and comfort over a pizza and remembered the times with my mother they all experienced and enjoyed.  They were all aware of the delicate and difficult nature of the looming visit to the funeral home the next day.

Often seen as the family paraclete, my uncle also needed some human support.  Unable to bring his son and daughter with him on this trip back east, my uncle didn't have the comfort of having close family with him. My sister, wrapped in her usual autistic delusions, could never provide the comfort he needed and deserved.  He was well aware of the schism between my sister's faction and me and, by helping my kids through this difficult time, he tryed to prevent the poison from spreading any further.  Perhaps providing comfort to my sons and daughter by trying to rescue them from the collateral damage and family fallout, he received some comfort of his own.

By Thursday afternoon my daughter and my youngest son had seen and read the obituary in the newspaper.  My eldest son, distressed enough by his grandmother's passing, didn't want to read about her death in a public announcement.  My daughter was furious about the obituary; my youngest son, ever the wise, noted the omission and said, "Maybe it was just a mistake."  Of course, I thought I knew better than that, but it was possible that he was correct, too.

I was excluded from visiting the funeral home on Friday, but my children went regardless of whatever exclusion on which their aunt might have ruled.  Their visit was brief.  When my sister approached my daughter at the funeral home, my daughter confronted her about the hateful obituary and told her to stay away.  My eldest son came to my daughter's defense; my sister's only son came to her defense.  My uncle separated them all and a brawl in the funeral home was avoided.  My sons and my daughter left immediately, returned home and called the funeral home to arrange a private visit later that afternoon when no one tainted by my sister's attendance would be present.

My sister, this time simply by her native stupidity, spoiled that private visit, too.  All her life my mother had taken a dim view of open caskets in funeral homes and she was clear that there was not to be any open coffin in any funeral activity of her's.  Grievng and simple-minded, my sister had acquiesced to the funeral director's suggestion that the casket be opened for a private family viewing of my mother's body before the public calling hours that evening.  The idiotic notion that looking at a painted and preserved lifeless body would somehow help provide spiritual closure at the end of a loved-one's life is just the type of shallow and pointless idea that my sister has always embraced.

Mourning becomes Dianne

Sunday, July 15. 2007

My son told me of my mother's death on October 24th, 2006. He met me outside my house, about 6:45 PM and barely managed to say, "Mom died."

At least I had a human being deliver the news. My son, who had been close to my mother all his life and through all of the difficult past decade, received a text message on his cell phone about the passing. Lifeless technology was the medium that my sister chose, by proxy, to grudgingly spread the word. She managed to tell my mother's brother about my mother's death, but told him she could not bring herself to tell me. My uncle, who lives 2200 miles away from my sister, sent my son the text message. My sister was too busy arranging other affronts to communicate at all.

My sister authored this obituary and had it printed in the Asbury Park Press on October 26th, 2006:

"LESLEY ROBINSON KELLERS, 83, of OCEAN TOWNSHIP, passed away Tuesday, Oct. 24, at home, surrounded by her family. She was born in Pine Mountain, Ga., and has lived in Ocean Township for 60 years. She devoted her life to caring for her family. She was a member of the First Baptist Church, Asbury Park, for 60 years. She loved God and her family.

She was predeceased by her parents, Ralph and Mary Robinson Fabricius; and her loving husband, Robert. She is survived by her daughter, Dianne Nungesser and her husband Thomas of Howell; her brother, Dr. William Fabricius of Phoenix, Ariz.; her beloved grandchildren, Dee Dee and her husband Michael Napoliello, Steven and his wife Kathy, and Tim, Jaye, and Andrew; and her great-grandchildren, Christopher, Jenna, Samantha, and Robert.

Friends and family are invited to call from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at the Ely Funeral Home, 3316 Highway 33, Neptune. A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church, Third Avenue and Grand Avenue, Asbury Park, with interment to follow in Monmouth Memorial Park, Tinton Falls. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the First Baptist Church, Asbury Park."

There was no mention of me or my wife. My children were, apparently, the spoils of this demented family war captured by their incompetent, cloying, vindictive aunt.

Coal on the fire

Sunday, July 8. 2007

When my father suddenly died in July, 1988, the slow cracking of my family's foundation deepened and widened.  On the day he died, my sister didn't even let me know he had passed away.  Instead she sent her husband, alone, to deliver the bad news. I had always been (and continued to be) too much of a bother to her to consider.

For the next 8 years I ran the family business alone and fully financially supported my mother the entire time.  My promised reward for my hard work and perserverance was the ultimate full ownership of the business and the eventual ownership of the family home. But in early 1996, that promise was dismissed (or forgotten).  I was told by my mother that half of the property that had belonged to my mother and father and, now, my mother was going to be given to my sister's son.  I knew that not having my father around, my mother was slowly being coaxed and positioned by her scheming and manipulative daughter.  My sister's need for control slowly overwhelmed my mother.  Any considerations of how hard I had worked to hold my mother's world together through the tough years following my father's death were silently nullified.

By September of 1996 I knew I had to get out of the family business.  The burden of running a business that I had grown to hate and the knowledge that the material rug was being pulled out from under me by my blood-relatives, signaled the end of my career as a businessman.  I closed the business on September 1, 1996.

Demolition

Sunday, July 8. 2007
On October 4, 1970, on my parent's 23rd wedding anniversary, one thousand one hundred ninety-two days after her wedding ceremony, my sister left her husband, deposited her 2 year old daughter with my parents, and moved in next door with her occasional teenage sweetheart.

My family -- my universe-- that had slogged through through the 1960's with a variety of material advances and setbacks, contracted a fatal illness that day.  And though it would take 25 years to completely expire, there was no stopping our painful slouch to dissolution.