wings and things

Chapter 50: To no avail [1993-2021]

on October 21, 2021

In a previous chapter I mentioned how announcing our engagement to Anthony’s younger brother’s family was met with genuine joy. There were lots of hugs and kisses and congratulations and the champagne we had brought with us was consumed happily by the small throng that happened to be there anyway, most of the little blondies now adults. I remember catching a glance from my future sister-in-law and she seemed happy. Perhaps the brother’s abrupt exit from the house was due to a sick cow? Anthony and I returned to the farm (just across the road) with one of their many nephews in tow and continued to drink champagne and Anthony’s relief was potent. I didn’t understand his relief any more than I understood his anxiety in the first place; I was so naive!

It was such a happy day and perhaps Anthony’s consumption of champagne helped him to steel himself for what would come next and (at this point) he hadn’t confided in me enough for me to understand anyway. When the brother came over the next day to tell Anthony that our marriage would be the end of their partnership, and I came back from grocery shopping to find my macho machine crying, I got a terrible shock.

The beautiful blonde wife, my big-sister figure for so many years, ghosted me from the day after our engagement announcement. I was absolutely mystified and remained so for many years because I didn’t understand how her encouraging smile to me on that wonderful day had transmogrified into silence.

A few weeks ago I contacted the oldest daughter asking her the why? question. She is a lovely person but our conversation was fraught and we are no longer the teenage friends we were. She gave me some insights into her parents’ point of view that actually fascinated me.

Of course I am not silly enough now to not realise how 56-year-old Anthony was their financial security, but I certainly didn’t realise it back then. Anthony had helped to finance their children’s private school educations and, even after we were married, he helped to finance his brother’s house renovations, and investments. It was almost as if I had to be paid for – like a dowry situation.

But let’s look at it from their point of view: Anthony’s bachelorhood and workaholic tendencies ensured that they could live comfortably, even extravagantly. The loss of this very productive partner was a terrible blow to them financially. Apparently they were also worried that I would somehow come between the brothers and the irony that this happened, despite the fact that I didn’t instigate this, still meant that I was blamed for the ensuing rift. Then there was the fact that they disapproved that Anthony’s romantic relationship with me began before his other girlfriend had skedaddled. So, yes, I can see my in-laws’ point of view, but it was their financial anxiety that was at the forefront of the cold war with us that began the day after we announced our engagement.

I was strangely relieved to hear from their daughter about why I have been so despised for so long, and it made a lot of sense, pragmatically, but no sense whatsoever, emotionally. Anthony was always very reluctant to tell me about his younger brother’s ferocious attempts to regain Anthony’s side of the farm after we were married but eventually my naive, newlywed self launched into lioness mode and I became a mathematician of sorts. Anthony’s younger brother was in significant debt to the farm but Anthony was in the opposite position so he very generously overlooked much of this debt. As a result, what should have been a very simple half-and-half division of assets, became a very complicated dissolution journey that lasted eight years.

When Anthony forgave much of his younger brother’s debt to the farm, and when he forgave this same brother and sister-in-law for the way they had treated me, I wanted to shake him out of his complacency. I wanted him to to tell them how much they had hurt him, but he would never do that. I am not so reticent; from the moment we announced our engagement to this family we loved so much, everything went to hell. Ants and I tried to make peace for years, to no avail.

This brother/sister-in-law are pretty elderly now so I think it is best for me to let them go and I have already learned how to forgive them for the way they mistreated my wonderful husband. Nevertheless, I have once again extended the olive branch via the daughter and their response is silence. I tried, genuinely, for Anthony’s sake, for posterity, to make peace; we could have had such fun together and they could have bonded with Ming; they still could.

I have, like Anthony would have, offered to let bygones by bygones, to let all of the horribleness sleep, to make peace …

To no avail.

5 responses to “Chapter 50: To no avail [1993-2021]

  1. So sad they feel like they do………………

  2. So many opportunities missed -so sad.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This story is not uncommon in farming familiesI believe, but when it is up close and personal, and I had to watch my daughter’s agony and utter confusion, from the sidelines, and watch her beloved husband’s health deteriorate as a direct result, was almost all I could bear. For years and years we have talked and worked on forgiveness, knowing the damage that unforgiveness brings to the person, but this has been so very hard.

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