During our last visit to Manila last summer, one of the primary items on our list was to see the relatives on Alan’s side of the family. I already had my list of relatives to see — primarily my siblings, Dad, and a couple of cousins. Just like the last time, I didn’t get to see everyone. (I didn’t get to meet up with Jerome and Jher, for one. =(..) There were relatives I invited to my son’s birthday party who weren’t able to come for one reason or another, a couple of aunts I intended to see but just didn’t have the chance to.
It’s difficult to put everyone on the calendar when you have to consider I had to divide two-thirds of the vacation between my agenda and Alan’s. As it is, we didn’t even get to see his classmates and friends from high school anymore. We didn’t really mind. We had agreed that the important thing was for Mom to see her brother and his family whom she hadn’t seen for over twenty years. There were a lot of family issues that we had been prompting her to set aside, being that they were both advancing in years, and Alan and I were hoping the years would’ve mellowed both their hearts and they would find the time to be brother and sister again.
If only for that, our visit was fruitful. We invited them to dinner, not knowing if they would actually accept our invitation. We were afraid that they would be cold towards each other when they finally found themselves face to face after practically three decades of estrangement.
They arrived carrying a beautiful bouquet of flowers — the brother approached my mother-in-law slowly with a reluctant smile and gave her a tight hug. That broke the ice. My mother-in-law was close to tears but held it back. They started kidding each other and we had a wonderful time getting to know each other. There were grandchildren my mother-in-law had never seen. The strangest thing of all was brother and sister wore the same shade of mauve, a rather unusual color for either one to wear. But there they were, as if they were a singing duo. It was priceless.
It was important that we made this trip more than just a simple vacation because my mother-in-law was turning 76 at the end of the trip. She had been through a lot emotionally months before the trip, losing part of her family — not because someone died, but because someone disowned her as an adoptive mother. We thought it was important the she saw her family, both those from her side and Alan’s father’s side. We reached out to everyone but not everyone responded.
We figured there were sensitivities others might not have wanted to offend. Our only way of contacting them was through the internet, and when we didn’t hear anything, we figured they had chosen to just stay silent, perhaps not wanting to take sides. The thing was, we weren’t asking to see them to have them take sides — we just wanted to give Mom the chance to re-affirm her family ties.
We came home on Mom’s 76th birthday last May 13. Yesterday, one of Alan’s cousins told us that it was the first time he found out we had gone home, having opened his Friendster account only this week. That was sad. I guess we were simply not meant to see him and his family then. The same must’ve been true for his brother who we tried to reach the same way. I must admit we had surmised that they didn’t want to offend the one who disowned Alan and my mother-in-law (and myself included) – being very close to her. I guess we were wrong.. but that is one lost opportunity we cannot regain.
While there is a chance we will get to go home sometime in the near future again, we don’t know if my mother-in-law will be with us then. Perhaps the timing just wasn’t right this summer.
We did get to meet with other cousins on the same side of the family, so it was not like we were boycotted. Things happen… that’s technology for you.