Tuesday 7 April 2015

No good deed goes unpunished

"No good deed goes unpunished"
[English Proverb]

[Image description: statue of Christ paraded through Arroyo de la Miel]

Easter is a time when many ponder death, due to Christ's crucifixion. This Lenten period, Death unfortunately visited my family.

A few weeks ago my Grandmother died. It was not an unexpected event, for she had been sent to a nursing home for palliative care. Nonetheless, I still found the news a terrible shock. Her funeral was held a week last Friday. Saturday gone was the last day I shed a wee tear. On Sunday I woke up and felt my old self again: upbeat, optimistic and happy. After a month it seems that the time for mourning and crying is over. For all things there is a season as per the author of Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 so well wrote æons ago -

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Well, the funeral service was lovely: the minister had us crying, laughing, smiling, recalling Grandma. And I managed to say my own personal goodbye - somewhat histrionic; but thankfully the vast majority of mourners had exited.

I also succeeded in avoiding the evil clutches of my Mater; partially by  my companion permitting me to be rude and avoid crossing her path.

What is awful is that two of Gran's children did not attend (though one is actually recovering from a very serious op, which is fair enough; the other due to a family dispute!), nor two of her grandchildren (my two siblings), and none of her great-grandchildren (although two thirds are not children any more). This is given that my assistant made it from Basle and I from Málaga; but others could not make it across England…

I know my family is highly dysfunctional; but where was/is the respect for someone who gave so much, and so much love? All the good my Grandma did and at the very end she was disrespected, unappreciated and unloved by so many family members.


The next day I was mortified to discover my third Grandma (complicated story!) died last year; neither my Pater, my Mater, my uncle nor my aunt bothered to apprise me - how wicked, in my opinion! Felt like I had had a punch to the stomach… I did say my family is dysfunctional! At the time I was both upset and then really angry. I knew I had to let my emotions return to some kind of equilibrium before contacting the family. As I said above, on Sunday I thought myself to have achieved same; so I wrote to my family.

Dear [uncle], [aunt], [cousin] & [cousin],
After the funeral of my Grandma X, I received an added shock of discovering that Gran Y had died last year. I do not know when exactly, as no-one apprised me. Had I known at the time I of course would have made an attempt to pay my respects. As it is, I now take this opportunity to express my sympathies to you all.
Despite multiple attempts at contacting Gran, she never reciprocated. The last time I spoke to her I refused to reveal a matter involving another member of the family, in order to protect them. As they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Nonetheless, I never stopped loving and missing Gran and keeping her in my prayers.
I hope she is at peace now; perhaps, who knows, even with Grandad.
I certainly do not anticipate receiving a response. I suppose one really is not required.


When my sister met her current husband, I loaned them some money interest-free in order that they could afford a mortgage and purchase the house with which they had fallen in love. When my first nephew was born, I took him out every Saturday. And when his brother was born, I alternated with my parents; so that my sister and brother-in-law could have time for themselves. But a little before my eldest nephew's fifth birthday, my sister fell out with me and never let me again see my nephews. She later fell out with her father-in-law, my Pater, and so on…

In September last year, now my eldest nephew has attained majority, I contacted him via facebook. Over the next six months we occasionally exchanged messages. In February I sent the following:

Hi Z,
I have been In Andalusia nigh on a month now. Settled into my apartment and cleaned it. And cleaned it again. Finally feel it's my (temporary) home. I am in Spain until mid May for health reasons - I come out every winter. I have this apartment till the end of April. After that I shall travel through Spain, heading North to Santander to catch the ferry back to England.
I do not know your position, whether in education or employment: however, if you wish to come out here for a few days, there is a spare bedroom. I'll feed and water you and can meet you at the airport. You'd just have to pay for your flights, etc.
If not possible this year, then something to perhaps bear in mind for future years.
Right-ho: time to eat my cake and finish my glass of wine…
 Your Uncle Colin %)

The lad's response was to block me with no explanation. I have no idea what the issue is: but it is certainly downright bad manners to fail to respond to an invitation whether positively or negatively.


These are just three examples from my own family where a good deed has ended up causing me more trouble. I suppose the point about the extract from Ecclesiastes is that there is a time for everything. Alas, we mortals can never know the right time to take action or to refrain from doing so. Even if we are not punished by some anthropomorphic god, we punish ourselves. But really, all we can do is make the best decision we can at any given moment with the information we have at the time. Hindsight might assist us in making better decisions in the future - but not always or even consistently. My advice - which of course no-one will heed - is do your best always and then you never have to beat yourself up over the repercussions.

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