10 September 2008

Disrespecting My Elder

So, Uncle R called again. You know Uncle R. The one who couldn't get off the phone fast enough when I smacked him down about prayer in schools.

Yeah. That one. (Right there, on the left, with my Grandmother Sally.)

Lemme give you a back story. My father was the youngest of three. The oldest was Uncle C, who died of a broken heart two weeks after my father's death, who took beautiful pictures, who read my paper even though he only had an 11th grade-1940s-West Virginia-coal town education. I miss Uncle C as much as I miss Dad.

The middle brother? Uncle R. Dad and Uncle R never got along and, to make a long story short, I eventually found out why they constantly argued. When Uncle C died and left me as his executrix? Uncle R and his son-in-law caused me undue strife and upset regarding the contents of C's will. A few years ago when Uncle R's wife died? He wanted to dig up my father's and Uncle C's ashes and re-bury them next to his wife so it would be more convenient for him to visit their gravesides. Yeah.

And yesterday? He badgered me for the third time to send him old family pictures. Old family pictures he never knew existed until he saw his father's picture up there in my blog banner. And how did he clinch the deal?

"I'm dying, Heather. I've got prostate cancer, Lyme's disease, and osteoporosis. I should be on your priority list."

What pisses me off about this is it's always about him. Always. No matter the circumstances, no matter the events in our lives, it's all about him. I can't go into details because this blog post would end up being as long as War and Peace. Trust me when I say that I'm not exaggerating. And to have his impending death thrown at me? Just takes the cake.

What makes this worse is that I come out of this looking like the lazy, uncaring niece who can't see past the end of her nose (or the line of her immediate family) to send him a few piddling pictures. But honestly? My family comes first. And at the end of the day, when my family is in bed, the laundry is folded, the dishes are washed, the toys are put away, and I have an hour or two to myself? I barely manage to pull myself out of a stupor much less send a handful of pictures to my dying uncle.

God, I look like a dumb-ass. Just go read another blog and forget I wrote this.

14 comments:

Denise said...

Sadly, we all have one of these in our family. In my family we have several. They will go unnamed - I'll tell you some time over a beer. Stop worrying about what your actions look like to other people. You can't please everyone - don't bother trying. If you want to be a bigger person, you can actually live The Golden Rule. If one of your relatives had some photos you would like to have, you would want them to at least send you a copy, right? IF you are so inclined, scan them and print them on photo paper, and send copies to your self-absorbed Uncle. If this is truly all he wants, then it is a small price to pay to be rid of him. But know how much more you are willing to do for him before you give them to him, and set your mind to it, because with people like this they always want more: They are bottomless pits. Energy vampires. You deplete me, Uncle R. Seriously. And who gives a rat's hind parts what anyone else thinks. There is nothing wrong with keeping it real. Too many people fail to learn that there is a distinct difference between loving someone and liking someone. The fact that you are moved on any level by your Uncle R's impending death (real or exaggerated - I have had family do that just to try to get something!) proves the likely unquestioned love. However, the fact that you recognize other truths about him, shows a discernment for that love/like distinction. In short, just 'cause you love someone don't mean you like everything they do (or have to). Sorry, I didn't mean to get to testifying but just know that I feel you and you don't need to apologize for your feelings. Do what you can, but not at the expense of your family or your sanity.

Employee No. 3699 said...

I think I'd photocopy or scan the originals and send him the copies and be done with it.

Teri said...

Holy sh*t. He sounds like my ex. Does Uncle R have Narcissistic Personality Disorder too?

1) You don't sound like a dumb-ass at all. 2) It seems like he threw in that dying bit to manipulate you and get what he thinks he wants (which pisses me off to no end). 3) If he's not long for this world, what in the heck does he need the pictures for anyway. (I know I'm not the only one thinking that.) 4) They’re your pictures, not his. 5) If you send anything, do NOT send him the originals. Hell, I’ll borrow them from you this weekend, scan them, put them on a CD (I don’t give a crap if he doesn’t have a computer), and send them off so he’ll leave you the hell alone.

Avitable said...

Hey, don't forget to send me a photo of you as a kid so I can use it for the party.

:D

Ashlie- MommyCosm said...

Oh, honey. You're so much like me!

You're probably going to do the right thing here because you are a good and caring person. Despite wanting to be vindictive because he SO deserves it, you'll send him copies of the pictures. And you'll feel better about yourself in the process. That's what matters. Being the better person takes away the sting from being manipulated.

I have one of those, but it's an aunt instead of an uncle. Grammy gave me her special necklace when I got married and my aunt totally resents me for it. She commented on it when I wore it a second time to Grammy's funeral. She was so mean to my Grammy for as long as I can remember...accompanying stories only told after a couple of drinks...mean, mean, mean. I vowed that she'll have to pry the necklace off from my dead body before she gets to touch it again. I've chosen to cut her out of my life entirely...but I'd probably send her pictures if she contacted me.

Donna said...

Seriously, we must be related or something, he sounds like some one from mine or my husband's family!
I give him a photo-copy, he has a photo and you still have the original ... and don't look like the uncaring bitch of the family.
Me, on the other hand, I don't think there's much I can do to shake that title. Such is life, such is family.

Bucky said...

Not to sound like an echo here, but we have one in our family also. I think everyone does.

HEATHER said...

Honey,
Denise is so right!!
He is an energy vampire.
Scan(you've already got a few scanned) and print a few pictures, send them to him and tell him to forget your phone number. Don't kill yourself trying to get it done, but like the ones you've already got, just print them.
He is obviously not going to drop it, and the old bat will probably outlive all of us, just to harass you month after month about the damn pictures.
Or better yet tell him to send you the money to have them printed at the drugstore if he wants them so badly. Tell him you just don't have the extra money to do it.
So what if its a lie, it may get him off your back.
You know he sounds like a typical middle child, who is always grasping, and demanding attention.
You could always change your phone number, and make sure he doesn't get it. Or get caller ID and don't answer when he calls.
Can you tell I have difficult relatives? Honey, I could write a book!

Coal Miner's Granddaughter said...

Denise - I love you. I love you. I love you. This? Is why I chose you as my best friend in high school. :)

Employee No. 3699 - That's actually what I ended up doing.

Teri - Thanks, hon. I love you, too. :)

Avitable - I'm hand-delivering a friggin' picture and kicking your ass! :)

Ashlie - Yeah. I did end up doing the right thing. Sticks in my craw, but I did it. Grrrrr.

Donna - If we're related, then we're the only sane people in this f-ed up family. :)

Bucky - And that's so unfortunate.

Other Heather - You know? I never thought of him as that. A middle child. But you're probably right on the money. Huh.

metalmom said...

It will be something else once he gets the pictures. Don't waste your time worrying about making a miserable person happy. They will never be happy.

penny said...

Both of my dad's sisters are like that. I have all the family pictures from my dad's side (going back a little over 100 years) and they are not leaving my vicinity. Only 1 has asked about them so far (5 years ago), but she seems to have forgotten about them. Probably because they aren't worth actual money. I did start scanning them a few years ago but I haven't had time to finish it. I felt a little bad, but dad told me I shouldn't because she is who she is.

Not Afraid to Use It said...

This is a topic near and dear to me. I try not to get touchy about it (so I'm sorry if I don't explain myself too clearly on this one).

As the keeper of many of the family photos, I have had others in the family deliberately let other family photos moulder away in basements and refuse to give me copies. Even though I offered to pay for the scans/printing myself. I never wanted the originals, just to preserve the images.

It becomes a control thing. In this day and age, there is no reason that everyone can't have a copy. There really ought not be that whole "they are MY" pictures attitude. My great-grandmother's house burned down when my grandmother was newly married. ALL the photos burned. My grandmother ended up with very few from her childhood. They didnt have the technology back then to digitally preserve the photos. Now that we have the technology, why not work to make sure this doesn't happen? (and I am not suggesting you are deliberately hoarding the photos, I am just giving my family experience).

Even though he sounds as if he is the most wretched person alive, you absolutely did the right thing. It is so hard when it comes to family photos. My cousin's family has so many of my grandmother hidden from us. She is my grandmother, too. But they know how much I want them, and they deliberately keep them hidden from me and my mother. I don't understand how anyone can do that. They may hate me and think I am a horrible person, but I think things like this should supercede that kind of opinion.

I am proud of you for being bigger than the situation. For making the copies even though he is such a shit. Like everyone else says, I am sure it will be another thing next month, but you are a ROCK STAR for this.

Molly's Mom said...

That sucks. And you do NOT look like a lazy, uncaring niece. Actually, the fact that this bothers you shows that you are definitely not uncaring. I agree with a few other commenters - WHEN YOU GET TIME, scan some of the pics in and print off a sheet. Stick 'em in the mail and call it a day. He'll hopefully get off your back for a while.

I'm sorry you have to deal with this.

Gypsy said...

You don't look like a dumbass to me at all. Just someone who wants to protect herself and her family from toxic people. {hugs}