Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Eulogies 101 - Brother

Continued from Muse 5

I received an email from my brother once. He moved into our parents' adjacent home on the same property after my father died. The two houses, mine and his were on the same property with a shared recreation room in-between. We shared five acres (that my son mowed), an oversized swimming pool (which I maintained), large outdoor covered patio and party room with a wet bar. The perfect entertainment space between the two houses.  He could have talked but, he sent an email.

It was a wonderful place for 'gatherings'. There was a pool table, foozeball, drum kit and a stocked bar and a large fridge. The floors were carpeted with a stainmaster carpet and the walls plain, apart from remnants of my father's memorabilia. If someone broke a glass or spilled a drink, nobody lost their shit over it. If bottles and mess were left until the hangovers healed, nobody gave a shit about it. That all changed when my brother decided to ‘refurbish’ the oft use party room, provide a lock and dictate the rules of use. This was the final straw in a string of minor misdemeanours on his part that distanced us. 

I wrote this, over four years ago. Of course, I never sent it to him. We had the odd discussion but the relationship by now had broken down and was beyond reparable. We just accepted the animosity between us as a natural repercussion of what had probably always been a troublesome relationship.

“It's impossible to talk to you when you're yelling irrationally at me. 

Here are a few things I need to 'discuss' if you can remain calm and objective, I'm happy to talk to you but I'm not standing there while persistently abuse me and tell me to 'fuck off'.

The Party Room looks better now that the drum kits and gym equipment have been removed and the pictures are hung. We both know however that this is motivated by your 'event' on January 2nd which you didn't even have the courtesy to mention and has only been done to impress your friends, not for any altruistic reasons to improve our shared space.

I wasn't at all happy that you went ahead and redecorated without consulting or outlining your plans. It would have been polite to discuss it with me first.  You have removed every vestige of the past apart from a couple of large Foster's beer cans on one of the bar fridges. Even the "Grandpa's Folly" sign was unceremoniously removed. Now we are left with a room that is soulless, beige and festooned with uncomfortable furniture. The configuration is still impractical for large gatherings. 

The drum kit will go back in there when your party is over. We are happy to remove it if ever you want the room for a party but it's an expensive kit and that's where it belongs.  That’s where it will bloody well stay!

Just because you have put your belongings into that room does not mean you now own it. This is a shared facility. All are welcome to use it. If you're worried about breakages or damage to anything, please remove the items about which you are concerned. All care will be taken but no responsibility.

Any past mess was not just ours and it is generally cleared within a day. I agree, beer bottles tend to remain until the hangovers have healed and when we have our weekly clean up but since nobody enters the room during the week I have never had an issue with that. You had gym equipment, a drum kit and framed pictures leaning against the wall for months.  It has been as much a repository for your junk as a fun room for my kids. Quit your moaning and gas lighting and remove your own shit.

The fridge hadn't been cleaned since last Christmas. Since it hasn’t been turned on, it’s expected that there will be some mould, so keep your knickers on. The original spillage within was not ours. It is switched off after use because I'm conscious of the electricity use and the doors left open to help it dry out. I would have cleaned it before the next party. You just beat me to it. Don't get on your high horse about a bit of mould! It takes 10 minutes and a sponge soaked in bleach to clean.

Nobody asked you to paint or refurbish. Nobody asked you to rip up the carpet or buy new furniture for this shared space. We had it just as we liked it before you moved in. Scrappy as it was, it was Grandpa's Folly and it suited us. Nobody had to be 'precious' using it.  We had a perfectly functioning barbecue and an outside table. It is shared space. All can use it. Any talk of locks on doors is simply not acceptable; it is not your room exclusively. I'm sick of being made to feel like an interloper in my own home and being pushed towards the northern boundary. Do what you like in your own house but don't extend your realm beyond what is yours. The rest is 'ours'. You may have bought 18% of our shared space, but for all I care, it's the 18% in the back paddock that you own!

The pool room, swimming pool and outside patio are for everyone and totally maintained my little family. .  I agree that they should be used with respect and tidied afterward. You are absent during most of your children's forays.  Just because they haven't been living here for some time doesn't mean they've not had indiscretions in the past.  I've spent a lot of time tidying up after both. I'm not opening old wounds but I want you to know that this cuts both ways. Of course you haven't been here to see the drug use, the sexual activity, the disrespect of our property, the noise until 5am. 

The last time you had the soccer team over, a pool light was broken and the fence collapsed. I have not said a word. The garage lights still don't work and my car's tail light which you broke has never been paid for.  Living in close quarters with people requires a little give and take and tolerance.

You said you don't like talking via email and that you're 'happy' to talk in person but you are unapproachable most of the time. Gruff, rude and abusive. Talk to me. I would also prefer a lower tone of voice. That sort of unnecessary verbal abuse is very disappointing. I am not going to walk on eggshells just because you can't have a simple and rational discussion.  I sincerely hope you don't speak to any other member of your family the way you speak to me and mine.  This is twice now that you've raised your voice in anger against us and I just want you to know that it doesn't work, nor does it become you when others are within earshot. It's embarrassing. It's immature and just makes you look foolish and intolerant.

Finally, I have lobbied long and hard over the past six years on all our behalf to enable the sale of our property since it was rezoned - first to fight a railway line being driven through the back, now to try to reduce the council levies on our property. This is what's making our property unattractive to developers. The up-front costs are enormous.  I've met with developers, approached them individually, registered with real estate agents and spent precious time doing all I can to get a good deal here – for everyone. Despite being frantic at work, I'm still part of a lobby group, liaise frequently with council and am actively involved in trying to sell the block.

We will not rip you off. But we will ask that you don't expect to 'make' a lot of money out of this sale. That would be a lovely bonus but is by no means a certainty nor was it even six years ago. I'd like nothing more than a big fat cheque and happy families but in reality it's not going to happen. We are not a happy family and why? Fiscal over-expectations. You are the only one who has them.

Well you probably threw this in the bin but it was cathartic writing it. And for the record, I am very sorry that you're 'done with me' over money but at this point, I'm not quite ready to 'fuck off'.   I'm even sorrier that you've done this at Christmas time.

The first Christmas when everyone's here and I've worked very hard to make things fun and happy. What happened to you? You've become morose and angry and insular . . . such a shame. Although frankly. I'm over it. You're a selfish bastard who can't see anyone else's point of view. Your family is flawless and everyone else’s deeply flawed. It must be wonderful to be you. 

The main problem I have mate, is that you don't consult. You just go ahead like a bull at a gate making 'improvements' and rules without as much as a 'may I' that's rude. In 25 years of living harmoniously with Dad, I've never lived with anyone so resistant to consultation.  You're a grumpy bastard. I hear you fighting with your wife, yelling and ranting, using words that no-one needs to hear. Your daughters love you but have moved as far away from you as possible and your son is a lazy leech.  And you wonder why we harbour animosity towards you. We don't hate you or your family. We don't spit vitriol at you. You’re just a mean spirited person who has pushed us to our limits by railroading without asking. You are rude, inconsiderate and selfish. Since you told me that I was 'dead' to you some time ago, I think I've been extremely amenable.

Animosity accepted, May we never meet again."

Posted for the 10th River of Mnemosyne Challenge
Muse 6 "Animosity Accepted"