Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Learning the family pattern

Lots of things going on, so I am going to be off-air/not posting here/interstate until next Tuesday.

My mother's aunt - the last surviving sibling of her father, my granddad - passed away unexpectedly last week. She leaves behind her spinster daughter, who seems to have devoted her life to looking after her parents (her father died several years ago) and helping to run their massive sheep farm in outback South Australia.

The dimensions of this farm have always been something I cannot even fathom. One boundary alone is 70km long. Their driveway is some 5km or so from the road. So, yeah. We're talking a remote sheep farm.

My brother and I are flying in on Thursday and then hiring a car to make the drive north west for about 40,000 hours. No. I exaggerate. It's only about four hours.

I have no idea what to expect, but I am preparing for a rather intense weekend, emotionally. I went to my brother's place last night to catch up on the last from Aunty Muriel - he and my sister in-law only just returned from seeing her last week and also happened to bump into the travel plans of our mother's cousin's son (are you drawing the family tree yet?), someone we haven't seen since we were kids and they used to make the trip from Sydney to see us sometimes.

There's something really interesting to me about these converging desires to visit Aunty Mu, after all, we lead busy city lives. She and her adult children have lived in such a remote area for so very long, and we have been estranged from our mother as well for a decade, that it's been hard to keep in touch. But looking at all the old family photos again last night, seeing the deep likeness of the men in particular, who look identical to some of the cousins I grew up with, and also seeing cheeky toddler photos of my mother herself looking like a dark-haired Lolly... Well, I am just readying myself for some yearning "What if things could have been different" moments.

I'm particularly drawn to my grandfather. My mother's father. I saw candid photos of him last night looking through my brother's growing archives, which he received gratefully from Aunty Muriel recently, and I instantly connected to this guy whose wife went the way of my own mum: beyond batty-crazy and into downright spitefully insane. "The family sickness" is something that has come more and more to light, the more these subsequent generations begin to open it up and talk about it. It appears to stem from my mother's maternal side. So I have a growing awareness of what my father and grandfather went through, marrying in to this family that, although trying their best, were... well, very trying.

If I seem to be labouring the point or rabbiting on about something not remotely interesting to anyone reading, I do apologise. It's just that, when it is related to you, albeit not necessarily inside of you and something external but that which you know is always lurking, it's something I want to stop - I don't want the cycle to continue down my line, passed to the LGBB and any children she may subsequently go on to have. It's interesting because I can see how these things carry on through families - somewhere along the line, perhaps a chemical brain imbalance (something my mother certainly possesses and she wouldn't be the first in her family - there are stories of ancestors, females, being "not of sound mind" which I guess can be uncovered in many families the further back you go, depending on how good your documentation is... and oh boy, our family's documentation is astoundingly good, they knew how to string a sentence together - heh! that's where I must get my long-windedness from ;). But beyond these 'imbalances', I firmly believe that the good old Nature vs Nurture rule can be applied; that when raised by someone with this affliction, even if not wired this same inherited way, one has the predisposition to learn these behaviours that are not their own.

That's what I am seeking. And I find it no coincidence at all that all my study of energenetics has led me to this point. It's a symmetry I feel duty-bound to honour. For all the family's sakes. And the charge is being led by my little brother, his own personal drive and journey leading him to a fairly similar conclusion: I want to get to the bottom of this, as much as is feasible, so I can understand it from the grass roots and not carry it on.

So, off we go, little bro and I, on a road trip we haven't taken together since I was 3 and he was practically a newborn. Except that time, we weren't doing the driving, literally or figuratively speaking.

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