May 14, 2006

Response

(UPDATE: much later a followup)

Last week, when I wrote an angry post about how upset I was that my extended family never got informed of my cousin's death, I knew it was not very tactful (but more or less in line with the other venting I do in this space to an open audience mostly of my friends and acquaintances). Although they had moved away from the Chicago area and we'd mostly lost touch, I thought we remained on good terms with them—a great-aunt stayed at their house every year when visiting Arizona, and my dad and his brother had enjoyed weekly breakfasts together up until they moved—and was surprised and, well, angry that they closed us out of this.

Since I was little, Blaheta and Fischer (and for that matter Lux) funerals have been a family time. A time for the family to come together, and celebrate the life of our deceased relatives, for the older generation to reminisce and pass the family lore on to the younger generation, and generally to lean on each other and be a family. Even if the relatives were distant ones; there were certainly a few funerals I was brought to where I barely knew the one who had died, but I was able to learn more about them and form closer ties to the living relatives. The whole weekend between finding out from Mike's coworker that he might have died, until reading the obituary, I was working under the assumption that there'd at least be a memorial service in Chicago and trying to figure out how I could take time off to get there. Even as late as when I posted the blog entry, I was confused as to how a family, even one that had fallen out of touch with their extended family, could forget to notify that extended family of the death of a relative. It seemed downright bizarre, hence the title of the post.

I certainly wasn't expecting the vitriolic, hateful barrage that was posted in the comments section of that entry. Of course, I now know (as do you) that it wasn't a matter of forgetting to tell us, but rather, that my aunt, uncle, and cousin had intentionally cut themselves off from the rest of the family, and had no interest in hearing our condolences, having our support, or indeed in ever contacting us again. They even seem to resent that we found out about Mike's death, for reasons that still aren't clear to me. But they're still family, and I still have positive memories from when they still lived in Palatine and we got along.

So here it is: I don't know what it was that I did that so deeply offended you, but whatever it was, I'm sorry it happened. I'm sorry for being tactless in my post about Mike—posting while upset is of course never a good idea. And I'm sorry that the other basenote incited such awful nastiness to be thrown around in Mike's name. I'd be pleased if you could find it in you to let us re-open the lines of communication.

Thanks.

Posted by blahedo at 10:31pm on 14 May 2006
Comments

Well, for what it's worth, I regret almost everything I've ever said in anger. Even when it was 'justified'.

And, as a practical matter, acting angry towards someone is hardly ever effective. It most often seems to just make the situation worse.

This is not to say you shouldn't feel angry in some situations. Your emotions are your own. And it is often necessary to let the involved parties know that you are upset. But being able to carefully chose your actions in the heat of the moment is the quintessence of maturity, IMHO. That is very hard to achive and maintain. It is something I still have to work on myself.

Posted by ansible at 1:03am on 15 May 2006

I read the original post right after it was posted, so I wasn't even aware of the comment storm until this post. I'm aware now. I went back to read it.

I sincerely hope that the people lashing out in response to the post were simply too distraught by the passing of their friend/relative to restrain themselves. I also hope that someday they will look back on this event and consider why they let it happen, starting from not informing the entire family on down to each derogatory line of their comments.

I don't feel the need to defend Don or to respond to the comments attacking him. I'll just say that I respect and support his behavior.

Posted by Greg at 11:55am on 15 May 2006
Hello. I know a little something about family dynamics. Maybe not Blaheta family dynamics, but perhaps, as I suspect, the Blaheta family is not so different from the millions of other families out there who consider themselves unique.

My mother did not marry a black man. Instead, she had a child with him. And then another. And then a couple more. This was in the early seventies, and my mother's pentacostal family was not having any of it. Many words were said in anger, when they weren't trying their utmost to ignore each other. We kids weren't aware of this, of course, but it was, quite literally, Us vs. Them. It caused minor, old wounds to repoen, the revelation of old scars and the creation of wet, red new ones. And bizarre rules that the family followed. We only got to visit on certain holidays, the occasional birthday, and sometimes we time-shared events with some of the more vociferous objectors.

And it was so stupid. People do get old. When the hot-running zeal of youth gives way to the contemplation of middle age, it becomes quite clear that very few things are unforgivable. One can either hold on to the prejudices of the past, or let go, offering the Christian cheek.

When my grandparents died, the aunts and uncles (after an expected, but mercifully short, squabbling session) seemed to calm down. The vitriol of Us and Them calmed down. I'm not sure what happened, but I think that after you've been truly and honestly sad, it's hard to hold on to hate. All that was left was family, the only ones that possibly have a hope of understanding you, and good thing too, because you can never shake them. Try it. I did, and they're still here.

And I kind of like them. The whole flawed, irresponsible, irritating and occasionally hostile bunch. I only wish now that I'd had more of a connection with them when I was a kid. Don't ever miss out on that, no matter how just you may think your current cause is.

Posted by Theo at 1:23am on 16 May 2006
Over TWO years after the fact, I just learned about this and I'm sad. Background: I knew Mike from Powerhouse Gym in Schaumburg, IL from about 1995 to the end of 1999 at which time I moved to California. I stayed in touch with a few people from the gym who also knew Mike. He and I were always friendly and hung out a few times. I always liked him. He was such a character! Always in great shape, too. I knew his friend Andy as well. Can someone please tell me the cause of death? A friend of mine said it was suicide, which made me so disappointed, and so shocked. And again, so sad. If someone can please share some details so I can have closure with my grieving process, it would be appreciated. My condolences to the family. Thank you. Posted by Rob Eckaus at 10:21pm on 20 Oct 2008
I was a good friend of Mike's and I recently found out about his death. I have a photo of him that I keep that he gave me and some really good memories. I miss him and my heart goes out to his family. RIP Mike Posted by Joe Newsome at 7:41pm on 6 Nov 2009
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