I was at two funerals this past week – one was the mother of a previously close friend. The other was that of a previously-close relative. The demise of an elderly uncle or aunt is expected and honestly, not so sad. What is sad are the whispers afterwards. Muted voices discussing the drifting or sometimes sudden vanishing of this cousin or that nephew or niece.
Sometimes the reason for their disappearance is obvious – a big quarrel or something someone said or did or wrote on social media or worse, a change of faith (yes, taboo but it happens). Other times, the reason for the vanishing act is a puzzle. The said person either slowly removes himself from the family circle or just disappear. But you know, it’s one of the nice things about deaths – when people die, these hidden people suddenly re-appear. But, here’s the thing, you won’t see them again until the next important funeral.
Do you have a relative like this? I do. Truth be told, I have a handful of them, and it bugs me. Surely these people know that they upset their families, their parents particularly. But why do they behave this way? Is it a psychiatric condition? Or are they just nuts? I hope and pray that none of my children will do this disappearing magic thing on me.
Then, there are also vanishing families – whole family tree branches that apparently decide that they would rather not be associated with the rest of the clan. Sad but that happens too. You have relatives like this?
Yes, I know I’m just complaining about this and you’re wondering WTF am I doing to make things right. Right? Here’s what I think we should do. Make it a real effort to re-connect with those long-lost aunts, uncles, cousins and dare I say it, brothers and sisters. Those things that they should not have said or done – it’s time to forgive and forget. Eat some humble pie, say sorry. It doesn’t matter whose fault it was, it was so long ago anyhow.
You would be surprised how magical that s-word can be. And you know what, if the reason YOU are avoiding seeing them all these years is because you owe them RM200, it’s time you faced up to it. And if I may remind you, you are answerable for your bad debts when you die.
Deal with it, solve the problem. Say bro, I’m sorry man, here’s the money IOU plus interest. Then go on give the guy a big hug. If it is your relative who has been avoiding you because of money, forget about the money – he probably needed it more than you (which was why he borrowed from you) – in economics parlance, forgive the debt. It’s not important. Family is a lot more valuable than that.
And here’s an easy way to re-establish connections with your kin – go to the funerals, the weddings, the doa selamats and the silly birthday parties. It’s your duty. Picture this – what if nobody attends your funeral? How sad is that? I don’t know about you but I want all my relatives to see me off.
And like you, I want to be remembered as a person with a good heart, that’s all.