This past weekend I went home. While I was there my brother called me on my cell phone, and we talked. Well, he griped, complained, yelled, grumbled, and whined, about mom and dad, mostly dad, life, his wife and kid, job, and just about everything else in this world. It left me very, well, I guess upset is the best word for it. He actually brought me down. I felt bad that he believes that everything in his world is bad. I want to fix it for him. Not only can I not do that, I can't even convince HIM to try to fix it.
One of the things that bothered me the most was how he talked about our dad. My father can be a rather difficult man. I have learned to accept this. He's been this way for 59 years, and he's not going to change now. I have learned when it's worth it to fight it, and when it isn't. My brother hasn't learned this. He's 4 years old than me, but he still won't learn this lesson.
Part of what my brother said was that since he and dad were having such a hard time getting along, he, my brother, my brother's wife and child (Emma) would no longer be coming to the house anymore, that my brother's family would no longer have contact with mom and dad. This really did upset me, that my brother was so selfish as to deny his child contact with her grandparents. He and dad might have problems, but the solution is NOT to cut Emma's contact with her grandparents. They might have problems, but the problem isn't how the grandparents interact with Emma, it is how dad and brother interact with each other.
Also, he said that his wife was upset at how mom and dad treated Emma when they had her in the morning. Emma is dropped off at mom and dads' in the morning, they feed her and take her to daycare. According to brother, wife felt that mom and dad were unhappy with the arrangement, and that mom and dad acted as if this was a huge imposition, and therefore would be stopping the arrangement as soon as she could.
However, I spoke with wife last night. We're on our way to becoming friends, and I really like that. I want to be friends with my sister-in-law, I feel like it is important for our family to really be a family. She said exactly opposite of what my brother said, that she was so happy that mom and dad looked after Emma in the mornings, that Emma loved the time she spent with Papa and grandma, and that she was a little sorry that the situation would change when she stopped student-teaching.
Now, I'm an optimist, I know, but I felt like that when sister-in-law was talking to me, she was being genuine, and I believe what she said was true. I am relieved to be able to discount what my brother was venting about as just his constant displeasure with life, and need to blame all the perceived bad things in his world on someone else.
My very good friend made a very good point. Some people are only happy when they are unhappy. I guess that's true for my brother. Now, though, I feel bad for another aspect of the original conversation. I feel bad that my brother feels like everything in his world is bad. I feel sorry for him, to never be able to find goodness in this world. I feel bad that when he looks at his daughter, he sees a mistake, not a smart, funny, healthy, happy child. He looks at his wife and sees a discontent unhappy woman instead of a smart, attractive, sensitive, adult woman who brings love into his world, in spite of having a hard time at teaching right now. How sad a life that is.
Lord, give my brother healing of his heart, that he may see all of your goodness in this world, rather than all of the pain and difficulties. Amen