Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Graduation Blues

Here's the final score: Krupp 17, Whitman 0

That's the number of relatives on each side of the family who attended Emily's graduation party. I really wasn't trying to keep score. I may have the number wrong on the Krupp side. I have no doubt that I got the Whitman side correct.

We mailed out invitations weeks in advance. We talked to people on the phone. A bunch of Krupp's and a handful of Whitman's said that they would be there. The Krupp's who said they would be there were there. The Whitman's who said they would be there weren't there. To put it in perspective, I have a father, a sister, and an adult niece and nephew who live within a half-hour drive of our house. Each Krupp traveled anywhere from 2.5 to 7 hours to reach our
house. One of them just had major cancer surgery, but he was there.

It reveals nothing I haven't known for a long, long time. But it saddens me. And I realize that this is nothing more than my own private pity party, but humor me for a moment. We give and give and give. We're the ones who host the Christmas family times, such as they are. We're the ones who give the presents. We're the ones who call. And it gets old, and it leaves a hole in the soul. I suppose I was hoping against hope that they could at least acknowledge that this was an important milestone for my daughter, that they could make some feeble attempt to relate to her before she leaves and those opportunities are gone forever. But why start now?

It really was a wonderful party. It made me realize how truly surrounded we are by people who love us and care about us. But for whatever reasons, I have a hard time not focusing on who wasn't there. You live with the hole, but it doesn't go away, and every so often the curtain is pulled back to reveal ... nothing.

I don't always know how to respond. What do I say to my family? Do I say anything? Do I just continue to play the game, invite them over for Christmas, pass out the presents knowing that there won't be any presents handed back to us? Do I explain to them that my wife, one of the kindest, most compassionate people I've ever known, wants to plant a boot solidly up their individual arses? And that I don't blame her, and that I'd be shopping for especially pointy boots if I got the chance?

"Where's your family?," Kate's 88-year-old mom asked me at one point on Sunday. "I never see them." She moves slowly these days, but she wouldn't have missed Emily's graduation party for anything. 'I don't know," I told her. "Maybe they forgot."

Or maybe they never stored it in the ol' memory banks in the first place, which is the more likely explanation. Maybe it didn't register, in the same way that my daughter's life has never registered for them, in the same way that my life doesn't register for them. I'm not even on the radar.

My life is blessed in so many ways. I know it, and I'm thankful for it. But sometimes I miss having parents and siblings. Sunday was one of those days, and so was Monday. Now that I've written about it and prayed about it and processed it a bit more, maybe Tuesday will be better.

15 comments:

teddy dellesky said...

i hope today is better. i've dealt with similar isssues with my father and his involvement in my sons' lives. it hurts even though blessings overshadow most of it. i will pray.

Anonymous said...

andy

wanted to call you and chat. could not fin your phone # or email. so i googled you.

this page came up

http://www.rru.com/~md/Cases/aw.html

i am not sure if i should laugh, but i know you and all and think this must be a spoof.

take care, and sorry about family blues. amkes us long for a day when it wont matter anymore

matt

megan said...

It is somehow comforting to know that someone else who is older can admit to feeling this and that it just doesn't go away when you reach a certain level of maturity or age or whatever.

I can relate to your pain. I'm sorry.

Karen said...

man, this sucks. i'm sorry. i can relate. it's both encouraging as well as disheartening to see that something's don't seem to change.

people can be so damn self-centered.

John McCollum said...

Andy,

How ironic. Kori and I often feel so much stress about the time demands our families would place on us if we let them, and we're always looking for ways to balance our other friendships and relationships with relatives who want us to come over to celebrate Boxing Day and National Chicken Repair Month.

I guess love with all its entanglements really is better than complete indifference.

I'm sorry it's that way for you. I wonder if our families feel the same about us? "Where are John and Kori? Oh, they're out with their church friends."

Hmmm.

John McCollum said...

http://www.rru.com/~md/Cases/aw.html

BTW, it's all true...

mg said...

dude,
that sucks.

sorry man.

Andy Whitman said...

Matt and John, that article was written by a friend, Miles O'Neal. It's pretty funny, although it has caused me a small amount of grief.

Back in the day, as Miles notes, when the Internet really was still the purview of a small group of computer geeks and shadowy government agents, there was a newsgroup called rec.music.christian. I believe it still exists. And I used to post my thoughts there fairly frequently. Then, sometime in the mid-'90s, the Internet was overrun by Doofuses with AOL accounts, and what had been up to that point an interesting and civil newsgroup degenerated into postings along the lines of "DC Talk R00LZ, D00D!" and "U R a MORON if U think DC Talk R00LZ!"

So I quit posting. Apparently (although I didn't see it) there was a raging debate for a while on rec.music.christian about what had happened to me. Was I dead? Paralyzed? In a vegetative state? So Miles wrote that now infamous article and posted it to rec.music.christian, detailing the "real" story behind the Internet legend. Ahem.

God knows why, but that's the first link that pops up when people search for "Andy Whitman" on Google. A couple months back I joined a new Internet discussion forum called Arts and Faith (http://artsandfaith.com/). Some legends die hard. After I signed on and made my first posting, I received several e-mail messages from members of that forum. They wanted to know two things: 1) Was I the same Andy Whitman who used to post on rec.music.christian?, and 2) Was I really a woman?

Anonymous said...

andy

sometimes the truth is better than fiction. you make me laugh. i really needed that this morning. my laughs are from the net story not the extended family.

anyway, can i be the circus promoter who would show, "andy whitman" the bearded lady who blogs about music and arts?

matt

danthress said...

Andy, I led a home-group evening once with something I came up with called Prayers for Parents. Maybe we should explore it sometime.

My brother and I marvel at the indifference our parents have to their grand-kids and great grand-kids. 20 years ago they chose to live in Florida half the year, and now those grand kids know their parents kind of half way.

John McC remarked the other day that he wanted to be the grandfather at the orphanage with little kids running around. Yeah, who wouldn't, wouldn't you think. But I guess that's not the case.

Annie's father seems really interested in the Grandfather role. He talks about spoiling the kids and all. I guess one side of the family is better than none.

Andy Whitman said...

More fun. It's amazing what you can come up with when you search on your name. Such as:

“Boxing racketeers, loose-hipped blondes, chiselers – these were all part of Andy Whitman's life – and so were jim-crow hotels, cops, tenements, and hatred. For Andy Whitman was a Negro trying to make a living in the toughest racket in the world, the prize ring. Tried to make a living – until the crooks and the vultures moved in ..."

They got the skin color completely wrong.

Andy Whitman said...

Dan, I won't go into the sordid details here, but indifference (which is where we're at now) is far better than the active attention I and my sisters received. It sucks. But it sucks less than it used to. The latest episode of Jerry Springer ain't got nothin' on my family.

You're absolutely right that one side of the family is better than none. Kate's family isn't perfect. But they're remarkably functional, they love one another, and they're involved in each others' lives' in good, loving ways. I am so thankful for them.

As a side note, I used to honestly think that *nobody* could have had as horrible a family background as I have had. I figured that my horror stories could top anybody's. But as I talked to people, I realized that family dysfunction is truly the norm, and that there are countless horror stories out there. We're all the walking wounded. Which makes it imperative, I think, for the Church to function as the true family that many people never had.

Our church isn't perfect, either. I'm in it, for starters. But I do see genuine connection and healing going on. What a good thing. Even a great thing. And I'm thankful for that, too.

John McCollum said...

"They wanted to know two things: 1) Was I the same Andy Whitman who used to post on rec.music.christian?, and 2) Was I really a woman?"

Andy, could you stop dodging these real, and very important questions? I, for one, am dying to hear you unequivocally address these issues.

Jeff Cannell said...

Andy- Thank-you for having me and Ian at Emily's Party- Thank-you as well for the gracious loan of your camping gear. It's a pity that your side of the family have missed out on enjoying the wonderful life God has woven into your family.

Also- I posted this on my blog today:
My First Blog Confession: MEA CULPA!!!
&%@*@

I did it again. I messed up a lunch appt. with Andy Whitman.

A couple of Months ago I totally blew him off. Last Week because of my confusion I was late by 30 minutes.

And this week-- I forgot where we were supposed to meet. I racked my brain for 30 minutes and thought Element was a good guess. 5 minutes after our appointment I thought I would scoot to "Yeah Me Too" coffee shop to see if that was the place. Jovan said i just missed Andy.

Andy-- I'm so sorry (as In "I'm a sorry excuse for a _______) !

Jovan was glad to meet you- he'd actually been looking forward to it after reading a bunch of Paste issues.

I treasure our time together and regret wasting yours.

Please Forgive me.

Andy- I don't know why I screw up our appointments. I managed to meet with Bill, Amanda, Zach, and Gary with no problem.

arggggghhh!

Andy W. Anderson, Ph.D Candidate said...

Ah, I know too the feeling of having one side of the family present and the other completely absent. I know this post happened a few days ago, but I figured I'd at least post...

On my father's side, relatives came from far and wide (most from over 6 hours away) to our wedding. Those who didn't attend included one relative who wrote a two page apology for not being able to attend despite being from Iowa and being 89 years old. My mother's side of the family lives within three hours of Columbus and none of them bothered to make it.

My mother was in great spirits on the day of the wedding but was the only (and I repeat the ONLY) member of her side of the family who came. This bothered her to no small extent but she's dealt with it very graciously, if not with some frustration at realizing that her parents were the only people from her side of the family who cared about what was going on in her life. With both parents deceased, she is now the lone representative of her side of the family despite having six nephews and a brother and a sister.

I suppose it bothers me as well, because I do regret never having been able to introduce Amanda to my Grandparents on my mothers side and am saddened for my mother at feeling rather abandoned by a side of the family that simply has more important things to do.

I identify, although not as closely as my mother would.

Just a thought. I once again enjoyed your post.

A+