In the course of my pre-move decluttering, I came upon a pile of home videos, one of which was one that Ashley’s Dad made, documenting William’s first year.
I sat and watched it all the way through (it’s a couple of hours long), and it was so lovely to relive the memories, though quite poignant as well, particularly as my father-in-law is no longer with us.
What really struck me, though, was how close we were in those days to Ashley’s side of the family. Ashley’s brother and his wife lived next door to us, and we were always in and out of each other’s houses. Almost every scene in the video was a family get together of some kind, with all the kids (who were toddlers/babies then, obviously) playing together and all the adults chatting and laughing.
And it made me feel really quite sad that we don’t have that any more. Not at all.
Ashley’s Dad died almost five years ago. A couple of years before that, Ashley’s brother and his wife split up and subsequently divorced, and Ashley’s brother now has a new partner (not that new, they’ve been together for years now), and another child.
Out of all of ‘that side’ of the family, I am closest to S, my ex-sister-in-law, although the rest of the family have pretty much excommunicated her subsequent to the divorce. We both make the effort to get the kids together (I think it’s really important for Will to have contact with his cousins), and also catch up for lunch and a gossip several times a year.
The last time we had a family get together with my brother in law, his new partner and kids was literally YEARS ago. And we live five miles apart. I don’t really know what went wrong. The last time I laid eyes on my brother in law was Boxing Day last year, when he popped in for ten minutes on his way somewhere else.
There hasn’t been any falling out, it’s just …. drifted. We do, admittedly, have very different lifestyles. But with family, that shouldn’t really matter, should it?
And it makes me feel really sad, because I get so much joy out of spending time with my own side of the family, and I would love to have that with Ashley’s side too – if only for William’s sake.
I had a chat with Ashley about the whole thing after I’d watched the video, and we agreed that we should reach out and try and organize for us all to go out for a meal together – neutral territory, kids included, not too long – just a nice step towards getting to know each other again (the new partner for the first time, really) and celebrating a little bit of Christmas with family.
And Ashley tried to organize it. And to start with, BIL seemed keen. But it hasn’t happened, excuses and obstacles were given, so it’s not to be. Which is a shame.
I tried to discuss the situation with my MIL last weekend. But she is a master of not hearing things she doesn’t want to, so that was a dead end.
So I guess the happy family memories will stay in celluloid form, to be looked back on with fondness and a smile. But it seems that no more memories will be made, at least not in the near future. And if my father-in-law is looking down on us, I think he’d be sad, too.