Man up, brother!

Spent this morning with my nephew at the park. All the while my brother (his Dad) is commenting on ‘the facebooks’ his support for Boris Johnson and the nasty party. To be expected, really, isn’t it? I wrote recently about still not speaking to my brother. Today that decision was somewhat vindicated. I agonised over responding and chose not to. That was probably the right call for the time being. This happy, smiling eight year old struggles with life. He has cerebral palsy, walks with a frame or gets pushed about in a wheelchair. His mum doesn’t have the time to do everything she could to assist him in getting better. Time is finite and she has a younger child also. The boy needs his Dad.

I wrote about this extensively in 2016 when this situation first developed. It took me some time to figure out how I felt about his actions and I decided I didn’t like them:

“…my brother met a girl. They split up, he met another girl who quickly fell pregnant. He then rekindled his relationship with the first girl who knew about the pregnancy. The baby was born and girlfriend, who had become fiancée by then, made her feelings very well known. She hated that child. She hated everything about him. He was such a beautiful happy little boy too, yet she hated the very air that he breathed.”

“Eventually things got so bad that fiancée stopped brother from seeing his child.”

“Last year this beautiful little boy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Has ever a boy needed his daddy more…?

The situation has not changed. He still doesn’t have a relationship with his boy. How could he not? Where is his sense of duty, of responsibility? It still makes me angry when I think about it. Would this child’s life be better with his father involved? ‘Probably’ is the answer. But despite all this; despite the resources my brother has access to and despite the needs of the child he refuses to man up and be a father to his child. What a terrible thing to do.

How does he sleep at night?

Still not speaking

My brother messaged me last Friday and I have not replied. I can’t bring myself to return his pleasantries and it just feels false. I’m still struggling to reconcile his decision to abandon his child in favour of his woman. Maybe I should give him an opportunity to explain. But I feel as though it doesn’t matter what he has to say. I’m just not interested. I’ve managed years without him in my life. Do I need him in my life now?

Perhaps I was wrong about this.

I saw my brother today. We didn’t speak. I don’t think he even looked at me. He didn’t sit with our parents and I, and he left after the funeral service avoiding coming to the wake. It’s the first time I have seen him since we fell out and now that I am home again I wish I had said something; even if that something was just ‘hello’. Perhaps it just wasn’t the time and place.

Today I explained to a good man the reasons why we fell out. I explained why – from my point of view – our relationship broke down. I don’t know what his point of view is. Maybe I never will. This man impressed upon me my responsibilities in this. That my brother is making a mistake which he will, one day, suddenly and quite horrifyingly wake up to. His abandonment of his child; in itself a terrible act, is mirroring the actions of our own father. That I suffered and my brother suffered means I do not wish to see his child suffer the same.

My reaction was to turn my back on him. He was a fool. He was making a huge mistake and I could not be expected to stand by and watch him do what he was doing. But was that the right reaction? I don’t know any longer. Speaking today about it, and talking about it at the weekend, maybe I am wrong. Maybe what I instead need to do is confront and educate? Inform and explain? Will it make any difference? I simply do not know. BUT if there is a chance it won’t make any difference there is equally a chance that it will.

And even if it does not make any difference at all to his decision with regards to seeing his first-born, perhaps in time he will come around to see the sense of things. Perhaps between us, my parents and I, with him not being on the outside looking in but rather and inclusive member of the family; perhaps we can make him understand the error of his ways.

 

Perhaps.

Goodbye 2016, or ‘what I’ll do differently in 2017’.

People keep saying that 2016 has been a really shitty year. Mainly as a result of the celebrity deaths we have experienced in the last 365 days. It’s very easy to jump on the bandwagon on death and disaster. The rise of Donald Trump The Anti-Christ, for example, and #BREXIT as a decision made by 50% of the UK population to be isolationist, backwards and to undo decades of progress. It’s very easy to look back at 2016 and think just how terribly awful it has been. And I very nearly got sucked into that pit of despair.

But then I stopped. I thunked for a bit. And remembered. You know what? My bad years have passed. 2014 was brutal. I lost Clare in the most wicked, cruel and evil way. Taken by cancer before turning 40. My world collapsed and I didn’t know how I would get through each day. 2015 wasn’t much better. I fell out with my brother which ultimately lead to our family being splintered and me not being invited to his wedding. Those wounds have yet to heal.

2016 hasn’t been bad to me. I have had my fair share of crazy experiences and dangerous liaisons, I’ve had stresses, I’ve tolerated fools. I’ve fending off stalkers and compulsive liars. I’ve been mis-sold on an idea which didn’t manifest in reality. I’ve been gullible, deceived, shallow and vain. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes in my personal life.

Professionally it’s nothing but positives. There are no complaints.
I’ve maintained friendships with those I’m interested in and cast aside those who bring me down.
I’m closer to my parents despite being estranged from my brother. They see my side of things. We’re allies.
I’ve been to Portugal, I’ve been to Lanzarote. I’ve bought a car. I’ve made improvements to my home. I have more money than I have ever had. I’m far from ‘rich beyond my wildest dreams’ but my bills are paid, there’s money in the bank, and there’s wine in the fridge.
My relationship with the boy’s mum goes from strength to strength. My relationship with the boy evolves as expected with a nine-going-on-nineteen-year-old. He’s stubborn and headstrong. He is his father’s son.

As the clock ticks over to midnight it’s time to consider what I’ll do differently in 2017. One criticism I’ll level at myself from the past year is my tendency to rush in. I’ve been so keen to capture that which I lost before that I have thrown caution to the wind and involved myself in situations too early and too soon. Too deeply. Too personally. I’ve opened myself up to people and given myself to them before I first weighed up their worth. I’ve invested time and emotion in people who did not deserve my time or my emotion. I’ve been stupid. I’ve been kind. I’ve been cruel.

2017 is to be a year of standing still and taking stock – I’ve said that before. I have plans to do interesting things and read a lot of books. I might even move house, but if I don’t or if I can’t I’ll make my current house more of a home. I’m going to go on holiday; maybe twice(!) (maybe thrice!!). I’m going to enjoy life and living it.

But there’s going to be No More Mister Nice Al. It’s time for me to be careful, calculated, cautious. Rather than taking people at face value I need to wait until the big reveal. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It’s time, 2017 is going to be the time, for Al to no longer be foolish.

I’ll see y’all on the other side of the bells.

Family

I wanted to write something about this. At first I just posted the photo, well, that was after I tried to put something down about it but couldn’t quite manage to find the words.

This little boy, Jackson, and the circumstances surrounding him and his father (my brother) and my parents and how much they love this little boy, and how much they do to ensure they have a relationship with him, well that is the very essence of family.

And, my brother, the wonderful man who rejected this lovely little boy in favour of an evil woman, and then fell out with his brother (me) because I won’t reject my principles when it comes to family and fatherhood. He’s perhaps the very essence of anti-family. Or, to put it another way, family when it suits.

Mike has his wedding. I wasn’t invited – and wouldn’t have gone anyway, on general principle. I’m angry with him. I’m angry at the situation he brought about. I wish it was different but it’s not. He refused to stand by his family – and not ‘just’ family like a sibling, or an uncle, or a cousin, but his own first-born child. His own son. That disgusts me. It makes me angry.

I see so many fathers who are denied access to their children when that is all that they want. They are denied access and lack the resources to fight that denial, or lack the education to know what they can do to fight that denial. And here we are, a man who was raised right, is educated, has resources at his command, who chose to not have a relationship with his own first-born son. How does he sleep at night?

Family, your children, your children’s children, your brothers and sisters. You can’t pick them. They might infuriate you. You might sometimes think you cannot stand the sight of them. But they’re family and, maybe it’s duty or obligation, but you stand by your family. You do not abandon them.

Especially when the ‘them’ in question is an innocent child.

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A nice day for a white wedding?

My brother gets married in August this year. Invitations have been sent. My mailbox is conspicuously light. I’m not invited. This probably should bother me more than it does. It’s a significant life event. Of the four brothers he has I’ll be the only one absent. He’s making a commitment to someone and I’ll not be present to witness it.

I should probably care more than I do – I do care a little bit – I’m sad that it has gone this way, but I cannot stand by and witness him marrying a woman who made him choose between her and his son. I cannot stand by and wish him ‘all the best’ when I know that an innocent little boy doesn’t see his dad because he chose a woman over his boy. After all we have been through.

I can’t be a party to this decision. I think it is wrong on so many levels. Am I to go and celebrate this happy union knowing that history is repeating itself? Am I to go tell them both how pleased I am for them? That I wish them every happiness? I am many things but I am not false. I can’t pretend to support this.

I do wish him well. I wish him the very best of luck because I think he needs it. The woman he is marrying is a harpy and she won’t be satisfied until she has her claws in him permanently.