I’m dead, but don’t tell the children

Have you ever noticed how some families regard everything as fair game for sharing? And other families regard information about anything as a top secret affair? That kind of oil and water mix is my and my wife’s families.
My family regards anything as fair game for sharing and bringing out into the open. If Uncle Joe has a boil on his butt, you can be sure that all will get a chance to view and comment on it. If Aunt Susie thinks her exploratory surgery scar is neat, we will all get a chance to discuss it after dinner.  And if someone has a serious illness, it is nothing to be hidden, but is to be brought forth and shared.  And that sharing is powerful because it means the love and support is available to the afflicted and those who care for them.
Imagine my shock many years ago, when we were newlyweds, and I discovered my wife’s family is exactly the opposite. Great Grandma may be in the hospital and dying, but no one will speak of it.  Many is the time when we have accidentally discovered someone was in the hospital or seriously ill after the fact.  I am still suprised that funerals are announced – after all the illness was hidden, why let on that the person died? When asked, her family always maintains they just didn’t want anyone to worry about them. Needless to say, I would much rather know and share. My wife has come around to a similar view after spending all these years together.  I guess I could be considered a bad influence.
Now that my wife’s mother is widowed and lives here in this small town near us, she cannot easily hide things.  That doesn’t stop her from telling my wife “don’t tell your brother”on a regular basis. It can be when she is ill, or in the hospital, or just feeling lonely. Thus, we plan to write a humorous book on dealing with the exasperating foibles of parents. And the title? You got it – “I’m dead, but don’t tell the children.” Look for it in your bookstore in a few decades when we have time to write it.

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