apologize to anyone who has already seen this, or who knows the story already and have commented to me. But as of today, Thursday, it still has not shown up on my Facebook page, and there are people who need to see it. Please understand I am not milking the event for sympathy – I just need it to be seen more widely. Please bear with me. This is the last time I will send it.
Written Tuesday, August 5, and published then for the first time.
I am feeling a little bitter today. I learned yesterday that my blood sister (we share the same mom and dad) died in January 2013, and nobody let me know. I understand that there are family members who knew about it, and attended a memorial service for her, but her husband convinced the rest of my family to keep it a secret from me. I knew he disliked me, long ago, but I did not realize how deep that hatred went.
I found out quite by accident when I was speaking to my niece, her daughter, by Facebook, which she was rarely on, and never replied to my messages, but she read something I wrote about how I was going to Corpus Christi this coming fall, and I was going to call Patti and see if she was interested in seeing me.
My niece wrote me an email telling me about her death, not realizing I never was told about it. I am horrified that for all this time, she probably thought I did not care because I never sent any cards, made any phone calls, or showed up for the memorial. I did not know about it.
I loved my sister, but she and I, after our childhood, went our separate ways for some years. I to live with our dad, who my mother abandoned when we were still small children, but after I returned in the mid-60s to Corpus, she and I lived together, and spent a lot of time together. After I moved to Austin in 1975, I stayed in steady contact with her, but knew her husband did not care for me, and I tried to stay out of her life to some extent. I used to call her regularly, but Harold would answer the phone, and I finally told her if she needed me to call me. I never heard from her again, and figured she was being loyal to her husband.
Patti was burned pretty badly over 80% of her body when she was 13. She was not expected to live, but she fooled all the doctors and survived the burns. In her later life, she did start having quite a few medical problems due to the scarring, and the trauma done to her body. My niece told me that she had begun having balance problems, and she fell off of a chair. She apparently seemed to be okay originally, but she went unconscious and was taken to the hospital. We underwent surgery for a haematoma, but it was too late, and she died. My niece and her family spent the Christmas just prior to that January, and is so happy she did.
Members of my extended family did not like me because of my political beliefs, and my spiritual beliefs. They are also good Church of Christ folk, who, I guess, felt that I was not worth knowing because of my different beliefs. Very condemning of me, as were outlying members of my family. But it seems extreme that they felt like this extended to not telling me my sister had died.
I learned that one niece knew it when it happened, and she told me she was threatened with being disowned by her family when she threatened to tell me anyway. Part of me understands that completely, considering my own experiences with them, but part of me thinks she should have let me know one way or another within a few months, when it was too late for me to try to go to some memorial or other.
Instead, now that I have learned it, I have heard only from the one niece, who has apologized, and told me how horrible she felt. I actually believe her, and she will not suffer for it. I need, of course, time to forgive them, but I will never forget it. I could pardon it a lot easier had I not now know that I must have had a really black name for not being able to talk to them, or get the news.
Sometimes it is not worth trying to get your family to like you, no matter how long you live, and what you do in later life. But venting this here will start my healing process. This may just be a bit of a warning that if you are estranged from someone you love, you might have this happen to you. I don’t recommend you have to change, but you should be ready for anything.
I will miss my sister Patti, even though I had not seen or talked to her in a long time, because I now live in a world where she isn’t any longer. Patti, I have always loved you, my dear sister.