About 2 or 3 weeks ago, my friend's dad died. This was a catalyst to get in touch with mine as we haven't really ever had a good relationship. I moved out of home when i was 15 to live with my Aunt and Uncle, and when I was 18 or 19 I came out to my family and friends, via the old-fashioned medium of a hand-written letter. All the responses were fantastic, and pretty much what I expected. Most of my family have some sort of religious belief, but the majority of them were as good as i could imagine.
My dad, however, has somewhat more conservative religious views than most and sent me back a no-nonsense letter that I remember contained the line "If this was Biblical times you would be stoned" and also something about AIDS. Unfortunately at some point my cheap after shave (possibly Hai Karate or Blue Stratos) leaked all over it and ruined the whole thing.
I had met up with my brother (who is a Church of England vicar) a couple of years ago as he was in London for the day and we had a nice meal and a couple of drinks and enjoyed catching up with each other. I had told him that I was thinking about sending dad a letter to try and get back in touch, and the conversation we had made me decide it was the best thing to do. After all, he is in his 80s now, and even though we have a zero relationship, I feel that if he died before I tried to reach out to him, I would have a constant dull thud of guilt inside me.
I am quite lazy though, and bad enough at keeping in touch with family members that I like (i.e all of them!) so it took the death of my friend's dad to spur me into action. I got his address from my brother and typed the following letter and popped it in the post.
I decided to keep it non-controversial. I certainly didn't want to get into an argument or shouting match. In reality I didn't really expect a response at all. But a few days later, this arrived at my front door.
I have obviously removed his address and signature. I don't want to comment on it too much, but the opening line discussing my mum's illness and death showed me that the rest of the letter wasn't going to be too upbeat.
I shared this on Twitter and I was deluged with messages. A lot of them were asking if I was OK. Yes, I'm fine. After all I didn't expect some sort of reunion that would make the end of a Hollywood film blush. But your responses were much appreciated. In fact I got a little emotional as I was reading them on the walk down from Esher station to the pub where I was meeting my other brother.
I look back at myself when I was younger and almost see him as a different person. A couple of people remarked that it was one of the saddest things they had ever read. I agree. But I'm sad for the little boy that I used to be.
Another friend asked if I am going to write back. I had thought about it, but it is not going to gain anything. The ball is in his court, and I have done all I can do to try to regain some sort of civility. But he is not going to change. I am not going to change.
I guess I won't be inheriting the house.