Blood Means Nothing
February, 2013 my husband and I took a trip to Belize. This was a big deal; Chris does NOT like to travel to foreign countries. He will accept travel to the Caribbean but he is trepidatious about other countries; politics, “banditos”, bad water, food viruses and a litany of reasons. However, he agreed to this trip to Belize. Belize was gorgeous. We were there for two days when I received a text message from my cousin, Darleen that her brother Chris…the one cousin that I had had a close relationship during childhood, who at the time was 51, was killed suddenly in a motorcycle accident.
I had not had any contact with any of my family other than my own sister’s for my entire life; when my mother died and her upper-middle class 3 brothers decided to put the three of us into foster care, the contact between us ended. They never attempted to visit or see how we were doing. My father was long gone at the age of 5, and I never knew his family. However, when I was
in my late 30’s I rekindled a relationship with my one cousin, Darleen….Uncle Tom’s daughter. Darleen and I had a nice telephone/mail relationship, and we both agreed that the past was not good; that we would put it behind us.
Upon cousin Chris’s death, Darleen and I spoke about the fragility of life, which lead to talk about the possibility of trying to bring together her family and mine for a reunion. This was February, 2013.
Darleen is a mover & shaker like me; we get things done. We decided July, 2013 would be a good time..and we got to work. Darleen and her twin sister live in Florida; her dad, my Uncle, lives in Boone, North Carolina along with my Aunt and other cousin Tommy. We agreed to hold the reunion in Boone. I told Darleen, I would use accumulated frequent flyer miles and fly sister and her son from Tucson to Boone and use miles to fly my other sister from Long Island to Boone. I was going to bring my sons….there would be several attending from the “Woods” girls side…me, my two boys, my sister Colleen and her son, my sister MaryAnn and one of her sons. Darleen recommended a great Bed & Breakfast that had a fully restored barn with 2 bedrooms, a loft, 2 bathrooms and a kitchen just 5 minutes from my Uncle’s house. Darleen would drive up with her two daughters from Florida and her twin, Doreen would drive with her without her children.
The reunion was just wonderful. We were in Boone for 7 days. We shared meals at Uncle Tom’s home; had meals out; went zip lining, visited local towns, went on Uncle Tom’s ATV….lots of fun. It was really a family time.
We all parted with big hugs and joy.
I returned to New Jersey with a feeling of elation. I told my husband how lovely Boone was. My husband, Chris, is always looking for a second home. “Oh really?, maybe we should look for a place there? For the winter months?” By this time, we had sold our condo in Melbourne Beach several years ago, and were ready to contemplate a small second getaway home for the two of us. I called my Uncle….excited at the thought of being near him, my cousins, my 2nd cousins and extended family in a second home. Uncle Tom told me….”oh, it’s great here, the weather is about 70 degrees 9 months out of the year….hey, I’m thinking of moving back to Florida, buy my place!”
So, I did some research. I’m not going to invest a few hundred thousand dollars without doing some research…not based on a one week visit. I’m not stupid. And BANG, BOOM, BANG….now, comes the truth….Boone’s weather sucks! Boone has the same weather as New Jersey. Actually, Boone has WORSE weather than New Jersey because it rains in torrents there, and the year-round temperatures are exactly the SAME as New Jersey. Sooooooo, buying a second home in Boone would not be a “getaway” home at all….it would just be a duplicate home with bad weather. It would be a bad investment. And I began to wonder, why is my uncle moving back to Florida if Boone is so wonderful? I wondered further, why did my uncle lie to me? What is the purpose of lying to someone who has just made an effort to rekindle a damaged relationship? Someone who has opened their arms and heart to you? Why? Just why?
I told my husband about my research, and we agreed that a home in Boone would not be a good investment at all. My Uncle called me several times to ask when I would be returning to Boone to seriously look at his home and the area in more detail to buy. At first, I danced around the subject and eluded to busy schedules….I wasn’t ready to admit to myself or him out loud that there was an elephant in the room – a lie. Within two weeks, I simply told my uncle that we decided not to make any purchase at this time but to save. I did not tell him that I knew what he had done. It was enough that I knew.
And the rift that was created when my uncles put us in foster care, the rift that Darleen and I sewed back together during the reunion, ripped open again never to be fixed. A chasm too wide; a lie too unkind. We never spoke again. I received a telephone call 4 months later from Darleen, Uncle Tom was in hospice with a day or two left to live. He had cancer; it had appeared suddenly and it had spread quickly. I gave Darleen my condolences. I was sad for her, she loved her Dad. I was sad for Uncle Tom; karma is a bitch.
Blood means nothing.