Recollections May Vary…

I pride myself on a good memory, however I concede that I may remember things differently to others also present at a particular event or situation. However, having said that, I tend to remember conversations dating back decades ago per verbatim. I very rarely find myself in a situation where I don’t remember when an incident or occasion took place.

This Christmas presented an interesting and hilarious situation. I drove down early Christmas morning to be with family. I knew it was going to be a small low key event, however in my focus to get work and home things done, it slipped my mind to let my host know that should an invitation to a certain faction within my vast but distant family be extended it would probably be declined (with any luck).

So I felt a little awful when I arrived at 11 am Christmas morning and found my host jittery and out of sorts in the kitchen. I had no idea what had transpired that morning as I had risen early did some gentle yoga stretches and packed my overnight stuff for the bank holiday weekend; all without talking to anyone.

After a somewhat fraught lunch preparation as we sat and ate, I realised quickly that a major ingredient had been left out of our main meal. However, any food is good and after driving two hours I was grateful.

Later that afternoon after we had caught up on our mutual news, I heard how my host had extended an invitation for Christmas lunch and it had been rather dramatically declined. My reaction to what had transpired was a mixed one, however my primary reaction was laughter. Raucous, once I start, I can’t stop laughter.

My host had rang with an invitation to join us for lunch and received a terse telling off. Apparently my current situation of being in the middle of a divorce, I don’t talk much about, starting a new job after returning to medicine after a hiatus of 15 years with a couple of chronic illnesses (thankfully behaving themselves), was of no interest. I was of no interest. The exact phrasing was an aggressive, “I DON’T CARE!”

The reason I found this funny was because said individual has shown little interest, or any evidence of caring for just under 30 years. Since my mother passed a decade ago I have seen the person in question less than half a dozen times. Each time feeling like a chore rather than I was someone they grew up with and they wanted to catch up. So, of course you don’t care, welcome to the realisation that you never really did and we all know this. It’s not exactly news. I would have to be oblivious and/or deluded to think otherwise.

I also found the situation somewhat tragic and I felt sorry for my host who at 79 years of age, did not deserve to be confronted with such unsolicited aggression, which was clearly aimed at me. If there was ever a situation that screamed, “don’t shoot the messenger,” it was this one. As people get older they require more care and consideration, however respect is a staple. They don’t weather the little storm in a teacup quite so well. So I was trying to calm and soothe a visibly upset and shaken almost octogenarian on Christmas Day who had made plans and had his hopes brutally dashed. I felt sorry for this, once I’d stopped rolling on the floor laughing my butt off.

The situation was totally my fault, I had completely forgotten, that’s how significant this person is, that when I had the ‘flu and then covid earlier that autumn, I had logically pointed out we aren’t really family in touch with each other if the other party never enquires how I am. We are all busy, however who we prioritise and when speaks volumes. I know this because I actually do have people surrounding me who genuinely care about me. The contrast between their regard for me, and the regard shown by my blood family is an absolutely stark one.

When I had covid my friends messaged me daily, sent videos, called and between them I had quite the extensive care pack sent to me. When I was better I promised I’d see them, I spent a weekend with one and made plans with the others, remaining constantly in contact.

The bone of contention was that I’d decided I wasn’t going to waste my time and energy in having the pretence of a relationship with someone who doesn’t have the instinct to enquire how I am or insight into their accumulative behaviour. Time is precious, energy not as easy to renew when you’re close to 50 years of age. Also at this phase of my life I know what’s worth pursuing and what is a lost cause, or more accurately what has been a lost cause for almost 30 years.

I feel no regret, no pangs of separation anxiety. Any attachment I had was concluded years ago and was perhaps an illusion I perceived. It was never mutual and never real. I felt elated that a truth had finally passed those lips that usually formed words of insincere superficiality and small talk. There’s no crime in being self absorbed, not legally anyway, and I applaud the realisation that care isn’t there (better 30 years late than never) and I appreciate the courage it took to finally verbalise it. Go you! Next time don’t shoot the octogenarian messenger, he’s very precious to me.

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