I believe strongly in what goes around, comes around.
I am an angry woman who doesn’t forget nor forgive easily.
My family’s evil gene expressed itself in my uncle. Already wealthy, his greed and feelings of self-entitlement meant he cheated my mother of money and a few items from my grandmother’s house. During the sale of the contents, house, land and later the estate, he consistently lied to me – even in the lawyer’s office.
After her stroke, my mother’s perceptions, attitude, personality shifted. Dementia only heightened these changes. Her reaction to my uncle’s actions varied from anger to excuses. She was adamant that I not mention anything about our disappointment to him. She wanted me to do as she did, pretend it never happened. (Although, she often said unkind things about him and his greed, arrogance and ego.)
My uncle developed Parkinson’s. Under control due to medications, he continued to be his arrogant, self-centered self. I wished he “paid” for his transgressions, but not with illness. The development of his disease was not the revenge I wanted.
His greed “cost” my mother and myself a lot – not just in terms of money. I wanted him to feel betrayed by someone he trusted. To be lied to by his kids or grand-kids. Something that would break through his feelings of self-entitlement; for him to feel abused, betrayed, unfairly treated Not battling something like Parkinson’s.
I was still angry and remained in a not forgiving mood. I cling to the past (especially the unjust or painful episodes) like velcro.
In December 2013, my aunt wrote that he had lost the use of his legs and had been hospital since October. Stabilizing his medication and condition might allow for regaining some mobility. He was scheduled to be transferred to a rehab facility. I heard nothing further until the following Christmas.
This time, my card contained just the standard family “newsletter,” usually an impersonal, over-blown story of the wonderfulness of him and his family. The letter began with news that my uncle was now in a small clinic, unable to use his legs, and falling deeper into dementia. The irony was not lost on me.
I forgave my uncle. What goes around, came around. But not in the way I expected. He lost the use of his legs and was falling deeper into dementia.
In 2010, after 8 weeks in the hospital, my mother died. By then, due to pain and fear (of falling), she had lost the use of her legs; unable and unwilling to get out of bed.
Each week also added a year to her decent into dementia. Her executive functions were already lost, her ability to remember today fading. The hospital stay made this pattern worse.
I’m writing a letter to my uncle (for my aunt to read or give to him), taking dementia into consideration. I’m not going to talk about transgressions or forgiveness. I doubt he ever felt guilt; realized the consequences of what he did. Forgiveness? For what?
It is an hello. This is what I’ve been up to. Weather. No questions. Easy to understand language. The first draft of the letter to my aunt was snarky; I’m still dealing with her complicity in the matter. It’s part of the whole, but one forgiveness at a time. This is a new experience for me.
I’m not just forgiving him because he is now like my mother was. I need to, like a snake, shed the skin of the past. If I can forgive him, I am working towards healing. If I forgive him, perhaps I can forgive myself.