Family Reunion

I arrived at my aunt’s house in Glasgow for a family reunion, of sorts.  The whole family wasn’t there, but it was crowded enough.  My brother had found me in London and told me about it.  I’d been working on a movie, which was exhausting, so I figured I could use a getaway and some relaxation.  I must have been exhausted, because I’d forgotten that the words ‘family’ and ‘relaxation’ were incongruous.

Besides my brother, there was my sister and her husband, their daughter, a couple of cousins and their spouses, their mother, and my older cousin’s daughter.  Those were just the ones visiting from Canada.  We were all staying in my aunt and uncle’s house.  Then there was all of their children and grandchildren who were there most of the time, as well as other occasional visitors that weekend.  I’d have left the keys with someone and told them to call me when they’re clearing out.

Despite the chaos, it was nice to see my siblings and cousins after many years.  We talked and filled in some of the gap.  At some point on the first day, we Canadians were on our own and somebody told me that one of my Scottish cousins’ son, whom I had met for the first time a little earlier, was basically a sociopath.  His mother took a liking to me that weekend, and it was mutual.  I would have found it difficult to not like her.  Although she appeared to suffer from low self-esteem and, possibly, occasional depression, she had a lovable quality about her.  Maybe a need to be loved, too.

I thought back to the last time I had been in that house.  I recalled a late night conversation with my aunt years earlier.  She talked about her pregnant teenage daughter.  There are some words spoken that you just never forget.  They leave a mark.  They affect you.  They inform you about the world around you and become integral to who you are.  She said, “She made a mistake and now she has to pay for it.”  I grew at that moment.  If that’s the way that kid is going to be raised, I thought, what chance does he have?  If he’s going to be treated or made to feel like a punishment from god, what hope is there for him?

Now, I remembered why I hadn’t been back up to Glasgow since then.  I also remembered why I hadn’t been back to Canada to see my family.  This Catholic christian attitude that seemed to come with the territory was annoying, off-putting, and even offensive.  This kid, who was raised in an environment that considered him something dirty, was now being described as a sociopath and the description did seem to fit.

If he didn’t seem to care about other people, I was told there was one exception.  Before returning to London, I had another one on one talk with my aunt.  This time, she talked about her grandson, the sociopath.  She said that only she could get to him or tell him what to do.  She is the only one he’ll listen to.  Only she could teach him right from wrong.  The same person who created the idea that he was a punishment from god was now his only salvation.

My aunt can be a nice lady, but she is a personification and microcosm of her faith.  By being that, she seems to have undermined her own daughter’s self-worth and manipulated her grandson.  It’s no wonder my very likeable cousin seemed to need love.

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4 Responses to “Family Reunion”

  1. crunchy Says:

    I grew up in Edinburgh..we were a protestant lot..but the same attitude prevailed..especially in the council housing we ended up in…there was no hope for some of the people.

  2. paulmct Says:

    Yes, housing estates can be hellholes. Some of the ones in London were cesspools – breeding grounds for criminals.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. C. Fraser Says:

    Paulmct – Did you grow up in an extremely religious household? As in is this the reason – or at least part of the reason – for your atheism.

    I’m not trying to make a point, I’m just curious. There’s the ubiquitous connection with how one grows up and how one lives their adult life. I grew up in a, mostly, non-religious household, I pretty much grew up an atheist until something sparked in University, and I became interested in the general concept of spirituality and religion. It appears that you may have had the opposite experience. I’m interested to hear more about your experience if you want to share.

    Peace.

  4. paulmct Says:

    I don’t know about “extremely”. I was sent to a separate primary school. My parents didn’t go to church every Sunday, but religion definitely pervaded their thinking and attitudes. If you follow the link near the beginning of the post above, you’ll get an idea of the background they came from.

    The unpleasant and even destructive aspects of that contribute to my atheism, but they work mainly against religion. The real reason for my atheism is that there is no logical or sensible argument for the existence of god. And the onus is on the believer to prove it. God is a theory and theories have to be subjected to scientific test. The theory doesn’t stand up. I’ve written numerous posts dealing with faith and religion, including:

    https://paulmct.wordpress.com/2008/02/10/fear-of-the-void/

    Feel free to browse past entries for more.

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