Out of wedlock

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Yesterday, we sat in a circle in
the lounge room of a cousin who lives near the beach at Sandringham where we
commemorated the life of another cousin, who died ten days ago on
the other side of the world in Holland, at the age of sixty five. 
I did not know this cousin
well.  She was older than me and our paths rarely crossed, apart from during my brief visits to Holland
and hers to Australia, but she is lodged forever in my memory and imagination. 
I don’t remember when my mother
first told me that this cousin had been born out-of-wedlock.  Such a loaded expression ‘wedlock’, as if the
institution itself is some sort of guarantee of imprisonment or security. 
My cousin was born in 1949, not long
after the Second World War, and she lived then with her mother and for a short
time, her father, who at the time was married to another woman.  He did not stay around for long. 
Imagine this at a time when
illegitimacy and infidelity in marriage were far more unacceptable than
today. 
We have such a craving for
certainty in life, such a desperation that people and events meet our expectations
and we look down on those who fail to comply. 
On another note, in my large extended family, the
children of my many siblings, there is one in particular to whom I draw your attention.  She has joined me in keeping a blog.
Hers is a special blog because it
deals with life and death at its core. 
I don’t want to speak for my niece
other than to draw you to her blog, A Loquat Tree.  She speaks well enough alone.  
Maybe if someone visiting here
reads this blog, they might find a way of helping us all in the vast blog
community to find a cure. 
I’m big on people working together,
as much as I also snuggle into the notion that conflict is a good thing.  It’s necessary in order to allow for growth.  It’s not the conflict itself but the way it’s
handled that determines its ability to be constructive.
And I am in conflict about sharing
this blog with you because of other peoples’ sensitivities and concerns about
privacy, but it seems important to go ahead anyhow.
I talked with one of my sisters
yesterday, a sister and a Facebook friend, and she joked about my predilection
to go on political rants, particularly in aid of asylum seekers. 
I thought then maybe I should stop
shouting in order that my message be better heard. 
But in these two instances, that of
my niece and the asylum seekers, I’m not shouting for myself alone. 
I’m shouting for all those of us
who are vulnerable, who struggle and for whom life has dealt a rum hand. 
It could happen to you, or me or
anyone of us, but these people by dint of circumstance – fate, chance, accident,
whatever – find themselves in impossible situations, and they must deal with
them as best they can.
As always, it helps to share
the load. 

And then like my Dutch cousin, who
– despite, or maybe because of her tough beginning in life – was a wonder at
helping others, we die. 
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2 Comments on Out of wedlock

  1. Jim Murdoch
    December 7, 2014 at 9:43 am (3 years ago)

    It’s burdens, not loads. When Paul was writing to the Galatians he said to carry each other’s burdens but then a few verses later he appears to contradict himself when he writes that “each one should carry their own load.” What’s the difference? It’s a matter of degree. A burden is an excessive load, one that drags you down. Everyone has his or her load to carry. If your kid’s got the sniffles you don’t immediately badger all your relatives for help and support—they’re your responsibility—but when that kid’s been ill for months on end and is at death’s door it’s not only accepted that our nearest and dearest would muck in it’s expected. And, since we’ve started off quoting Scripture, it’s probably worth adding that not every family member would or should be expected to contribute the same. Luke this time, in Acts: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." I hate that I do this but I can’t shake off the past. As soon as I see someone misquoting or misapplying a Bible verse the mouth just shifts into gear before I can think about it. You probably weren’t even thinking about the Bible.

    One of the things I do like about the Internet and about blogging in particular is that we can offer tokens of support, a word here, a thought there. Even a ‘like’ on Facebook—and you know how much I hate Facebook—indicates that someone out there’s thinking about you. Or has thought about you. If only for a second or two. You’re not alone crying in the wilderness (sorry, Isiah that time). That’s why it irks me when people don’t comment on my blogs or worse still don’t respond to my comments on theirs (and just because I’m supportive when people like you don’t doesn’t mean I have to like it).

    Am I, as you put it, desperate that people and events live up to my expectations? Desperate is a strong word. I just think it’s rude. I made a comment on November 19th on a blog on the subject of online friendships in which I said, “[U]nilateral friendships don’t work. The less reciprocity there is the less friendship there is and the underlying truth is revealed: we’re not friends, none of us, not really.” She’s yet to respond. That was only a tiny part of my comment which was almost 800 words long and easily took me an hour or more to write and then nothing. Not a word. Are we friends? No, probably not.

    I’ve subscribed to your niece’s blog. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the odd thing to add but we’ll see. Apart from the Old Faithfuls like you and Ken I don’t find I have much to contribute these days. I don’t have the energy and so I ration it. I give what I’m able where I hope it’ll do the most good.

    Reply
  2. PhilipH
    December 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm (3 years ago)

    Elisabeth, I went to the link you gave to your niece's website and read all the notes and medical info.

    A disastrous and sorrowful time she is having. How terrible life is for some.

    I wrote a few words in the comment box but it seems to have vaporized. No idea how things work on the web sometimes.

    Shall try again some time soon. I have given my email subscription and perhaps I'll get something in due course.

    Thanks for the link. I am so desperately sorry for her and her family.

    Reply

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