All of the following emails arrived within two days of each other. These emails, along with wonderful phone conversations with my sister, suggest to me that my fears of being outcast from my family were unfounded. This is a huge relief. I’m not so naive that I confuse this initial wave of support with the lack of any concern or problem — I fully expect to have all kinds of discussions and difficulties and negotiations in the future. But this foundation of family and love is going to make those discussions worth pursuing because the family connections are worth pursuing a hundred-fold.
From sister Liz Rhapsody
Dear George, Good morning, I am up already since Gerald left at five to go to Nebraska to get ready to work calves tomorrow. I want you to be all right with every ounce of my self George, and I have been praying for you and your family for such a long time. I feel so much better having spoken to you and I agree with you that everything will be ok. Your health and family are the most important things you need to concentrate on. I hope everything goes well with your paper today. I know it will. You are blessed Georgio, with an awesome family, multiple talents, mind boggling intellect, and one great little sister! Ha. Just threw that last one in for a grin.
I wouldn’t trade you for love or money [as daddy used to say] and I’m so relieved to be communicating with you. I felt pretty lost. I’m doing my best to understand what has been going on with you and I realize that you’ve been hurting for so long and that breaks my heart. I will always be here for you too. So, vise-versa on whenever and wherever. Ok?
I love you always and will talk to you soon, Liz
George, I have something to confess to you. I told Aunt Phoebe about a week ago. I’m sorry, I just needed to talk to somebody and I didn’t have Mama. I’ve come to rely quite heavily on Phoebe as a surrogate mother figure for myself and I find a lot of comfort in speaking with her in many different matters. Please forgive me for telling her. She called this morning and said she got your letter and if they weren’t leaving for the beach she would write back today but she will write you soon. She and William love you very much and know everything will be ok. again, I’m sorry and I love you.
Here is Uncle Patrick’s address- xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. He said he loves you very much and is sorry you have suffered for so long. He said never have any reservations- ever- about calling him . He will always support you and be here for you. We truly have an awesome family and they all will always be here for both of us. Love, Liz
From Liz’s daughter, Lynn
Hello Uncle George!
I haven’t talked with you in a while! How are things going today? I hope well. Things are going pretty good with me, I’m just trying to find a job! You would think that it wouldn’t be as hard in Empire Falls, but I have been having zero luck! I guess I just have to keep looking though!
Well, I just want you to know that no matter what decisions you make in life I will always love you, and the person that you are. I have a very open mind about the whole situation, It did strike me as very odd at first, but the more I have been thinking about it and studying on it, I have felt more comfortable about it. I would NEVER EVER dis-own you. There is nothing that you could ever do for me to be ashamed of you in any way. I will always, always be very proud of you no matter what. I’m just sorry about all the pain that you have experienced with this, I couldn’t even imagine. I just want to stress on how much I love you! I have always thought that you were an amazing individual. Just please know that I love you with all of my heart and would never stop loving you. Family has always been a very important part of my life, and I know how important it is to have your families support, so know that you have mine. Also know that you can talk to me about anything at all. I love you very much. I hope to hear back soon! Have a blessed rest of the day!
Aunt Phoebe Peacock, my father’s sister
Liz told me she had confessed that she talked to me soon after she heard from you about your upcoming plans. I have had time to absorb the news. Then I got your thoughtful and articulate letter. No, I didn’t faint or get angry. I could only think about the pain you must have been feeling all these years and knew that we all must love you as before…when I say that, I don’t know how I will react when I see you because this is a huge matter to get my mind around. I think you are very brave to set out on this journey. Just give me a little time to adjust when I see you for the first time.
Having said all that I must tell you that I think you have chosen more pain for yourself, but you are obviously strong and certain of the path you must walk. You can do this! Bedford Falls and Empire Falls are places that I think are fraught with pain for you…not so much Bedford Falls, but Empire Falls in particular. The people who love you will support and love you no matter what, but my experience there with men in particular is that their manhood is often tenuous and easily threatened. I have long thought that my own father drank more than he should have because he was at heart a gentle person who could not and would not compete with the macho image of men in his own environment in a place he loved with all his heart. Your own father had a deep soft side that he rarely showed, and the genetic weakness for alcohol simply reared its ugly head in him. He was generous to a fault and would have done anything for you. He was, as was my father, simply who he was, and you are simply who you are. Those are hard pills to swallow as young people and young adults and even as mature folks, but we live with who and what we are.
Returning to men in the area, I fear that the reaction to your change when you go to Empire Falls will threaten the men and as a result will frighten the women. None will understand and many will be aloof and relations will be strained. Eventually all will be well, but I think you need to be prepared for strain and pain at first. As I have gone back through the years I find that I only see and care about a very few people there because they are the ones with whom I have maintained contact. I think you were prudent to resign from the partnership for these reasons, but there is absolutely no reason why you cannot give your able advice to your Uncle Jack about the family business matters if he is amenable to that.
I am concerned about your children and about Mary Jo, but apparently you have talked all this through. The children’s peers may be terribly cruel and I hope the therapy will strengthen them for things we cannot know about. I know how much you love them, and I feel sure you will do everything you can to help them to understand and to deal with the changes in their lives as well as in you own.
Story telling is important, and I know you are aware that the family has told its story for generations by yarn spinning and humor. We keep our family intact by telling stories. Don’t forget the importance of this as you move into a different mode of life. Your children need to know and care about the history of the family and how we have stood by each other through thick and thin. We will continue to do this.
Know that we love you and will support you in any way we can. William joins me in wishing you well. I am aware that faith has not played a big part in your life, but a church community is a wonderful source of support and love. The love of God is so extravagant that nothing can ever separate us from it and we are filled with it at every turn of life, both the happy, the tragic, and the unknown. You and your immediate family have been and will continue to be in our prayers. Do keep in touch.
Lots of love,
Uncle Jack Law, my mother’s brother
As you would expect, I’m shocked and dismayed at your revelation of your suffering with GID and your plans for the future. I’ve pulled up some information on the internet and at least am in the beginning stages of trying to learn about GID.
George, I can only hope and pray for the best outcome for you with your inner conflicts. Your decision not only will impact you, but also family, friends, business associates, students, and others, not just today but for a very long time. I’m sure you have agonized over the long lasting impact it will have on your family. Hopefully, they will be able to endure the negative aspects of this, now and in the future, and be able to nurture a love and understanding that will be stronger than the foreseen negativism.
You and I had a wonderful relationship when we were younger. Remember all the things we did, from guitar playing to skiing and everything between. I guess I thought of you as being my own, after all, you have the Butcher’s Album. Even now, we still have a certain closeness that most uncles and nephews don’t have. I’m thankful for that.
The past few days have been very confusing and strange to me. I suppose that not understanding GID has made me fearful and pessimistic, which is what I gravitate to in most situations. As I read your letter, I could only imagine the worst possible outcome for everyone involved. I didn’t concentrate or focus on your turmoil, pain, and fear, which you have been struggling with for years. I’m sorry. I could only focus on the worst scenarios.
Thank you for trying your best to let us know of your very difficult struggles. Even though I’ll probably never be able to fully understand what you have been going through, I’m able to, now, know that you have been in extreme pain, conflict, and turmoil for a long time.
I truly believe that God has a plan for each one of us. I also believe that He loves us, even though, sometimes, it is hard to see. Liz shared with me that Allyson Robinson suggested that you are blessed not cursed. That is a wonderful way of looking at it. Your purpose in life might be to use your many gifts and talents to teach and help others in whatever situations they are facing.
I want you to know that I love you and am very proud of you. I’ll be here for you and support you in your upcoming struggles. Never doubt that you are a very important part our family. Don’t ever think that we don’t care about you. We do!! We want the very best for you and your family. You reached out to us for support and understanding, now we are reaching out to you for support and understanding.
I love you,
Blood is Thicker than Water, part 1
Blood is Thicker than Water, part 2
Is Blood Thicker than Water?