Wednesday, January 19, 2011

About Michael

I had to go to see our attorney today to sign a health directive.  We thought it would be a good idea and would complement our living wills.  The attorney and I were talking about how who would be the designees to carry out the directives.  I was reminded once again of how small my living family is.  There simply aren't many relatives that I are still around or who I know.

All of this reminded me of a first cousin that I haven't seen in 30 years.  He was older than I and was the only child of my father's youngest sister.  I didn't know him well since the only time we interacted was when we would go to visit my aunt who lived in another state.  I remember Michael had an aquarium, and he liked to show me his fish.  He pretty much stayed in his room most of the time while we were there, except for the times that he would go out with his friends. 

When he was a junior in high school, we all went on a trip together to New York.  He was shopping around for a college to attend.  I don't recall all the details but remember my father became very angry and had words with Michael when he wanted to be driven to visit Cornell.  My father was doing much of the driving and was irritable.  He yelled at Michael who yelled back.  I remember feeling terrible because they both were saying unkind things to each other. 

Later, I would hear my parents talking about Michael, voicing their suspicions that he was gay.  Those prejudicial accusations seemed so wrong at the time and seem even more horrendous today.  His mother suddenly died, he was drafted into the service, and for some reason that I can't understand he was cut off by my father and his other sister.  It was as if he never existed.  I would ask about him, but was told that he probably was dead.  Of course he wasn't.

Later when I was a senior in college, he came to visit us.  I was home on spring break, and he drove down from DC to see the relatives.  I talked with him about my studies and graduate school.  He seemed interested and promised to keep in touch.  But that was the last time I heard from him. Whether my father and mother ever heard from him again is something they took to their grave.

Now as I think back on this,  I am sorry that he was treated so badly by my father.  I have a regret that I didn't get to know him better.  And I wish that I knew what had happened to him.  I don't know whether he is alive.  I am going to do some searching online to see if I can find out more about him.  I realize that I am not responsible for the actions of others or for their injustices.  I do feel that I could have done more to let him know that I didn't dislike him.  It seems totally unfair to have chopped off this branch on the small family tree.

I am glad that I thought about Michael today.  The memories that we have of people, no matter how small and inadequate,  are perhaps a way to honor them so they are not entirely forgotten.

Addendum: I learned this afternoon that Michael died in 1995 in San Francisco.


  1. I like the thought that memories might be a way to honor people. It makes me think of lots of people all at once.

  2. Thanks to the internet you can probably find him on facebook. My Dad's family never made any effort to keep in touch with me after I left home at a young age. I wasn't an outcast just forgotten. It has been nice in recent years to have my aunt reach out to me. I didn't realize I needed that contact to heal some final places in my heart. It gave me a since of belonging and when I visited it felt like I had come home.

  3. Ah yes, the secret histories of families. And I do hope it might be possible for you to reverse patterns and legacies of discrimination and exclusion.

  4. Being gay in the past doesnt seem like it was an easy road to travel down. I remember I asked my grandmother about a relative who was gay and why they were mentally ill. They didn't seem mental to me although I didn't particular like this woman she was a gossip. Must have been hard on men and women often having to hide their sexuality.
    Glad you shared this post I have gratitude today people can embrace more choices for their lives.

  5. smiles. i agree on the memories...and having those good ones to go back to is a good thing...we should focus on making them while we have them...

  6. Syd if you can find him, my guess is he'd be glad for the connection as well as you would. Search Well.

  7. :)

    I've had many of these random thoughts of people long gone, I consider it a bump from God to pray for those people and to ask for intuitive thoughts about them. Sometimes they've come unexpectedly back into my life, and sometimes I've found that as I seek them out, I find them. :)

    Love that about the program and what it teaches. I hear stories like that a lot!

  8. What great timing for me to come across your blog! Thank you for sharing this story of Micheal.
    In the past 3 weeks I've found 4 of my "lost" cousins on Facebook. It's been something which I always wanted, I wasn't privvy to the reasons for a seperation of our parents and I'm very happy to find them.
    I hope and pray you find Micheal.

  9. I hope you find him. Keep us informed.
    After your remark on my blog about changing Zodiac signs I looked up Sagittarius and I agree that you are much more like that than the Capricorn. This fits you like a glove:

    "The Sagittarius bounds through life with the confidence and optimism of one who is blessed. There is no possibility of failure, because Sagittarius knows there is a good and just reason for everything that happens in life.
    The Sagittarius will travel far and wide in search of more knowledge about his world. He loves to learn, teach, expand and find truth - thus his interest in philosophy, religion and other cultures. He moves quickly and independently as he is so sure of his own choices, which are always pure, honest and well-meaning."

  10. when some one is in your memory they always exist whethrer they do physicially or not.

  11. I hope you find him. I notice in my oldest child that his generation seems more open and accepting than even when I grew up. Gay, lesbian, whatever is much more out there. A 'preference" does not dictate the character of a person. And what is prejudice? Fear. I'm glad you shared this story, it reminds me to keep an open mind.....

  12. Sorry for your loss. Family is precious.


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