An open letter…

I don’t know why I am writing this post as the people to whom it is addressed don’t know who I am and will probably never read this but I want to do it anyway.

I belong to a genealogy society and have done for several years now.  I am on their Programme Committee and am in charge of the Programme Calendar.  Yesterday was their AGM, which I attended, and I was appalled by the behaviour of three of them in particular, who took over the meeting as a means to air their personal grievances against the Chairman.  There were moments when I could have stood up and blasted them for their behaviour towards him and his wife was visibly shaking with trying to keep her temper in check as she witnessed her husband being torn to shreds by one man and two vindictive sour bitches (there is not other word for them) sitting next to him in the front row.

So, this is my open letter to them.  Of course, no names will be given.

Dear M, L and P,

Your actions yesterday were reprehensible, utterly and totally so.  You chose the Society’s AGM to air your views about how you feel the Chairman has carried out his duties and it was not the forum to do so.

Being on the Programme Committee, I have seen and heard some of what is going on and I have also seen and have been told about your nasty, snide and disgusting comments that you have levied at the Chairman.  These are now a record so, if your behaviour were to ever be called to account, these would stand up pretty well against you!

You have carried out your vendetta against the Chairman for many months now and have caused him and his wife nothing but severe stress and grief, but you care nothing about that, such is your selfish and me, me, me attitude.  When his brother died last year, and he was at a low ebb, you still did not let up with your actions and thought that he should be getting back in the saddle five days after his brother’s death!  Excuse me?  I would have liked to have seen how you lot would have handled it should someone you loved had died and he, as the Chairman was telling you to buck up and get on with it as things needed to be done!

To also accuse him (and by association, his wife) of helping himself to funds from the Society for expenses when travelling abroad to international events when you have no proof is disgusting, but you kept digging away yesterday to try to trip him up and get him to confess to something, indeed anything, thereby forcing him to stand down as Chairman.  Well, your plan backfired didn’t it?  Because he has taken nothing from the accounts and has instead, paid for things out of his own pocket.  He has not as you accuse, claimed or pilfered anything from the funds, nor will he ever do so.

The issue with the unauthorised copying of databases is a serious matter and is being dealt with and I totally sympathise with the distress it has caused those who have spent many months painstakingly transcribing from original documents, only to see their work get copied wholesale elsewhere and corrupted.  HOWEVER, you L, as the one in charge of the website, should have made it your job to make sure that the security was such that this could not have happened so easily and even when someone challenged you about your lack of care, you still claimed that it was the Chairman’s fault and not yours.  Amazing!

The person who made the mistake of doing this copying is mortified about his error of judgement and has done all he can to rectify his mistake.  And, even when a member of the organisation he belongs to was also at the meeting, that did nothing to prevent you three, and indeed others from being so disrespectful about him and his organisation; a place that has done so much in the way of genealogy research for everyone everywhere, by the way.  He is a member of our Society and you owe him the same level of respect that you would insist that he would give you.

You may dislike the Chairman and deem him unworthy of holding that position, but he was overwhelmingly voted in for another year and if you felt so strongly about him, then you should have followed protocol and stood for the Chair yourselves.  There were no other nominees for the role so you failed to oust him.  Instead, the three of you had planned to stand up and make your petulant and rude speeches about him in front of him and us before resigning from your volunteer posts and cancelling your membership from the Society, then flouncing out of the room in major childish huffs.  What did you hope to achieve by that, by the way?

You might like to know that he and his wife do more for the Society than any of you, and if his wife were to resign then quite frankly the Society would be in jeopardy, because she is a major lynch pin and does so much for us all.  But you carry on thinking that you are the bees knees and carry on assuming that by resigning, your shoes will be some that cannot be filled.  However, you would be wrong, and let me tell you that the Chairman and his wife have alot of supporters from within (and I am happy to count myself among that number) and that you will not be missed.  Indeed, the society will improve and happily move forward without three nasty, vindictive people constantly trying to put a spanner in the works.

Yours…

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The 26th candle

Dear Dad,

You died today.

It doesn’t matter that it was in 1986; and although the raw pain has gone, I do and probably will forever get a pang of misery and regret when this day comes and I will, as I have done every year without fail, light a candle for you in a church.

That was a difficult year, such a difficult year. When your only sibling died that February, the pain etched on your face at his death was heartbreaking. You had that stunned look of disbelief and you must have thought about all those wasted years when you did not have much contact with each other due to stupid, stupid family nonsense.

His dying was the final straw; the catalyst that set in motion the countdown to you dying nearly eight weeks later.  There is never a good thing you can say about family dying but these events did bring our families closer, much closer than we had ever been when growing up.

Yours was the first dead body I had ever seen and even though I did not want to see you lying in your coffin, I was curious and you looked so peaceful; sleeping the permanent sleep.  When I bent to kiss your forehead, it came as a shock at how hard and cold your head was. Daft really, I mean, what did I expect? You looked so smart in your suit, and on the day of your funeral, when we were saying our last goodbyes, I placed the poem I wrote for you in your breast pocket next to K’s Star of David.

The turn out for your funeral was huge, not surprising really as you had met so many people during your life.  All your friends from the golf club, non golf friends and old family friends that you were still in touch with, professional acquaintances, the staff and Directors from your factory. And of course, most importantly, your family.  I sat and cried through the whole thing and could not sing Jerusalem, even though it was a favourite of yours.

The golf club you belonged to had its flag at half mast – mind you, you collapsing and dying whilst playing a round of golf must have shaken them up somewhat, bloody good job you were winning by the way!

It would have been nice however, if alot of those who professed to like you and Mum, had bothered to stay in touch with her after you died. She was dropped like a hot potato by so many who had greedily enjoyed her wonderful cooking and hospitality over the years, but then shunned her so quickly after your death. That hurt her very much Dad, and I often wonder how I would feel or if I would say anything to them if I met them again.

I know I was not easiest person to live with when I was growing up.  I had alot of the usual teenage shit to deal with and I truly believe that you saw alot of yourself in me so tried to curtail those more spontaneous outbursts.  Ah Dad, if only you knew the half of it, how sometimes you didn’t make it easy for me and I suffered at your words and actions.  But you know what?  I was not bad; I was confused and angry and I didn’t know why, I do now.

I wish that I could share with you all that I have discovered about your parents, particularly Granddad.  He hardly ever talked about his family so you did not know much and I have discovered such alot!  Did you know he was one of 10 children, and one of his brothers did not come home from the Somme?  I know that would have interested you and that you would have gone to Thiepval to pay your respects. K and I will do that one day, I promise.  I know that you always said that you had Polish ancestors through Nan’s family, but did you know that you also had German and Dutch?  K and I walked their London streets last summer and tried to imagine what it would have been like in their day.  Oh, by the way, the building where Nan was born still exists.

I got used to your absence a long time ago, and that was something I never thought would happen.  You were not perfect, you had many faults and it was not always easy having you as my Dad, but know that I loved you, still love you and have never forgotten you.

You always liked my poems Dad, and I wrote this for your funeral:

IN MEMORIUM

When death was one,
Your grief was great.
You pondered memories of your London past.

When death was two,
Your sorrow true.
Your feelings though, were sweet relief.

When death was three,
No words expressed
The silent tears wrenched from within.

Now death is four.
We bear the scars, our grief immense, our sorrow true.
We gather the ashes you leave behind and pick up our hearts as you want us to.

Several years later, when I was sorting my head out, many things became clear to me about myself and I wrote this by way of an apology:

DAD

You died too young,
I was not there
To rush into your open arms.
Tell you that I care.

My growing years were fraught with pain,
Could never find the love inside,
Display it as I ought.
I am that fool with much to hide.

I find the words you wrote to me,
Cannot stop the falling tears.
Reading them turns back the clock
Of how I wasted many years.

I light a candle every year,
Assuage my guilt, lest I forget
That you meant everything to me,
And I miss you yet.

I still love you very much,
This message is belated.
I was stupid then, but know I know,
It was never you, but me I hated.

Love M-A xx

Tattoo me – part 2 – it’s not about religion…

So, I did it.

As the title says, it’s not about religion.  I don’t subscribe to a belief system but I wanted to have something that represented where I come from and this is the simplest way for me to do that.  I have always thought it was a beautiful design, but I understand there will be those that won’t agree with me.  I can deal with that.

In fact, I used to wear a necklace that had a cross and a Star of David but stopped wearing it many years ago as the chain needs fixing and I never got round to sorting that out.  When I first visited Israel with Mum, I got told off by a Christian Arab for wearing my necklace; he said it was wrong to wear a Christian and Jewish symbol together, but I quickly told him that I would never deny where I come from.  And to me, this is no different.  Well, it is in one respect, as it is permanent!

You see, I have a stupidly enormous pride in my heritage, I love being a mongrel of mixed backgrounds and I could bore the pants off you talking about my family and ancestors from east London and France.  I won’t of course, unless you wish to ask me about how to get started researching your family tree.

This is my way to honour my parents and their beginnings, sentimental twaddle you might think.  You might be right, but I love them, so there we are.  Of course, Mum was not very happy when I told her I was getting this done and if Dad was alive, I know he wouldn’t have been either!

The procedure itself took about 30 minutes and it was not the most comfortable sensation in the world; the outline was more painful than the shading.  It stung for a good while afterwards as well and is a bit tender today.  I know that there is a small imperfection in the symmetry, but that just adds to the charm for me as neither religion or the human race are perfect!  I’m looking forward to when the redness goes and it has healed properly, and I must remember not to scratch it when it itches!

Anyway, it’s done now and I love it.