My husband's cousin died three days ago. Last night I brought the kids to the wake. They sure had a lot of questions and their behavior began to fall apart after about a half hour. We saw her body, said hello to a select few people, and went home. Lisa Johnson was not someone I knew well, but I remember her as a kind hearted person. She gave me a large gift at my baby shower. She worked in education, and based on her Facebook page she had good relationships with her colleagues. Many high school age students were present at the wake. That was probably the most populated wake I have ever attended, though I have admittedly not been to many. I guess I'm just lucky in that regard.
Lots of people die in my husband's family it seems. It is a large family and most of them live locally here in Rochester and Monroe county. Although their perspective on life is different than my own, they have always been very supportive to me and my children so I am thankful for that. I think of them as salt of the earth kind of people.
I will always remember the last sentence Lisa said to me the last time I saw her. Someone else in the family was razzing me, asking me who my kids look like. Bugging me, asking where Bea's curly hair came from. The Colberts, they do like to pick on people. Mat had been warning me about family bullying for years before it finally happened the day Lisa stood up for me. Mat had even tried to keep me from family events like funerals and picnics so that I wouldn't have to suffer the wrath of the Colberts. The last time I saw Lisa was at another funeral. I cannot hold animosity toward the banter of the bereaved.
The last thing Lisa said to me was, "Don't worry about it. My kids didn't look like me either."
Yeah, it hurt that it was repeatedly suggested that my kids were too beautiful to have come from my husband? Those kids are both a perfect cross of me and Mat. Gorgeous. Anyone with open eyes could see that. One person was kind enough to take my side of this family event, and that person was Lisa.
Bullying is an important issue in schools today, and Mat's aunt brought this issue up with me at the wake last night. She told me little Gabby, in Kindergarten this year, had already had a run in with a bully. The family made it clear to the school that this is not tolerable. I am glad for that. It is important to stand up against that sort of thing. I'm glad that this is a recognized issue in education today.
But what do you do when you are an adult and the bully is in a position of power over you? When standing up to it can really damage your life? You do nothing. You sit down. You shut up. You deal with it. Standing up to bullies is not always an option. If you are Johnny Depp, you get a big rock...
What do you do when the bully is your child, your older brother or your father? Perhaps even your mother? How can you influence them to treat others with kindness and respect? That is a question that each individual person who lives with a bully must ask them self to rid us of this social disease.