One of my cousins has her birthday today. She’ll be 48 too.
We grew up together and share a lot of history but eventually she moved to another part of the country and we didn’t see each other quite as much. Then I moved to Norway and, apart from Christmas card, we lost touch.
One of the things I did when I got back to England was to get back in touch with her. We hit it off pretty well and would phone each other about once a month to share family gossip and generally have a laugh. We weren’t what I’d describe as close but we definitely had a friendship.
The rest of my family were still pretty much outside of my social and family networks though. I’d have the occasional chat with one or two on the phone, email with a couple of others but that was the extent of it. Those people who had all lived within walking distance of our house when I was little were now spread around Essex and East Anglia.
My dad was no doubt to blame for a lot of the ‘coolness‘. He decided about fifteen years ago that he no longer wanted anything to do with two of his sisters and their families. I know why but I can’t see that it was good enough reason to cut all contact with them, but that was his choice. My cousin would tell me about family christenings, silver anniversaries and all sorts that we’d never been invited to. And yes, it hurt. As far as I knew I’d done nothing to deserve that kind of treatment.
Anyhow, one day I received an email from another cousin, an email that I found particularly vulgar. It was outright racist propaganda in the form of a joke (remember the one that some government minister was hauled up for having forwarded?) and I really didn’t find it funny. I told her so, she replied saying that we’re all entitled to our opinions and that was that. Or so I thought.
Unfortunately somebody I forwarded it to (not as a funny joke but just to show him how disgusting it was) traced the email address that it had come to me via and contacted my cousin’s boss, telling him that she’d been using company emails to send out such dirt. As he’s Asian himself, I can only imagine what his reaction would have been.
Fast forward a few weeks and a letter arrives in the post. It’s from the cousin concerned and basically tells me that she knows I was behind it all and that I was hiding behind the other person’s name and that the whole family are so disgusted with me that I can no longer consider myself part of them.
Riiiight. Ok. If that’s the way they want it then it isn’t really such a big loss to me - it was years since I’d ever felt I had an extended family so I wasn’t likely to miss it much. What upset me though was the fact that they’d just jumped to conclusions without even consulting me first. I’m guessing they traced the domain name registration that the email came from and found out that I’d registered it. What they obviously didn’t think of though, is that a domain name doesn’t have to be used by the person who registers it. I’d register this particular one for the person who did send the email because I built their website.
I’ve since called the cousin I got along with but she was clearly uncomfortable. There have been no phone calls from her since, and no texts. I didn’t even get a birthday card, something she always used to remember. Having lost her trust is what saddens me by it all - the rest of them I’m really not bothered about. But I guess that’s just life for you. People come and go.
I’ve still sent her a birthday card though.
Time for a change
19 hours ago