Tuesday, January 06, 2009

an open letter to my family

Considering the stress of my father's failing health, the controversy surrounding my family and a strained neck that is probably a direct result of the aforementioned, I have been unable to get out of my pajamas before noon every single day for the past week.

I go to bed late. I wake up early.

I spend much of the day on the phone with various family members. And at various times throughout the day, I will erupt in to a fit of uncontrollable tears. When I took the children to gymnastics yesterday, I realized only after I had arrived that I was wearing the same pants and shirt that I'd worn for the past two days, I had completely forgotten to brush my hair or teeth. My face was puffy, my eyes were red. I was a walking definition of the phrase, "Gone to hell in a hand basket."

I am posting here what I wrote to my family not because I want to air (more) dirty laundry. But because life is short. If you see yourself in any of what I have written about my own family, make amends and move on. And if you are someone who doesn't think family is important, go spend some time looking at this blog and prepare to be inspired.


Hi Everyone:

According to Frank, Dad's doctor thinks that he is going to be in the hospital for a bit longer before being discharged to a physical therapy facility. From there and depending upon Dad's progress ­ he will either be released home or to a nursing facility. I hope that Dad is allowed to return home. I truly believe that home is where he needs to be, even if we need to bring in aides or nurses. And although it might not be popular with all of you, I believe that Dad needs and wants to be with Mary. He genuinely cares about her. Some may disagree, but I think that she has been good for him. Or at least, good TO him.

From what everyone has been telling me, I am preparing myself for the worst. I am sad that this might have been the last Christmas that Dad is with us. I really hope that isn't the case, but as quickly as he has purportedly gone down hill and from the message that Frank played from Dad's doctor, I suspect that unless Dad really is able to turn this situation around, it might be over for him soon. It breaks my heart to write that. But with that being said, I think that as a family, we need to pull together.

We need to put aside our own "issues" that we have with each other and come together the way a family is supposed to be together. Especially, when we are on the verge of losing one of our parents.


We've all got baggage. Any one of us can run down a laundry list of what our siblings have done to wrong us. Any one of us can find fault with any one else. But if we are being perfectly honest with ourselves, we know that we haven't been perfect.


We've all done things that are wrong and perhaps, downright unethical and shitty. But of course, any one of us can rationalize why we shouldn't speak with one of our siblings for the rest of our lives. Because THEY did this. And then? They SAID this.

Try as you might - you don't ever lose your family.

Nobody is at fault for what has happened and is happening with Dad. All of us have been hurt. All of us have scars. Why create more?

As far as I'm concerned, Beth has been a savior to this family. Sure, Beth has made mistakes. But she is a tiger and her heart has ALWAYS been in the right place and I don't want to hear anyone curse her or put her down in front of me. Not a single person has done as much GOOD for this family as Beth. And if you don't agree with that, than I'll say that no one has done as much good for ME as my sister Beth. She has done so much for everyone of us, and if you don't see it - you're not looking.

It's no coincidence I named our first born daughter after her.

I love her and I would do anything for her.

I just looked out my window and a five-gallon tree that I planted a few years ago is now over 30 feet tall. Look around and you will see, TIME GOES FAST. Janet and Marylou are both grandmothers. Mary T is heading off to college soon. Our babies are growing up.

God forbid one of us loses a spouse. Or a child. The day will come when Mom and Dad will be gone. The day will come when one and then another and another of us will be gone. It could happen at any moment. But today, we're still all here.

Please stop pointing fingers.

Please don't insult one another.

Please don't ignore one another.

Please have some respect for each other.

Please stop gossiping.

Please leave the past IN THE PAST.

Please don't dredge up crap that happened 20 years ago.

Please let the bitterness and anger and hatred end.

Please don't let our father leave this world while his children are in yet another emblazoned battle. Please, let's make Mom AND Dad proud for the kind, gentle and compassionate children that they created. You have it in you to be good. And if not, FAKE IT. Please, be a good role model and make your own children proud. How would you feel if they showed such hatred against each other as we have??

Please, from your little sister ... GROW UP.

I love all of you. (Even if I haven't spoken with you in five years.)

Love, Jen


  1. YOU are brave. I hope they get the message.

  2. I hope and pray that you are all able to come to a place of peace and forgiveness, especially now.

  3. Jen, that was stunning! Simple, clear, well spoken. Good for you. You are one brave woman!

    I hope your family "hears" you and I'm very sorry about your Dad. I lost mine when he was 51. That was 30 years ago and I still miss him.

  4. I wish my father's family would read this letter. It's no way to live. They've already lost one of the original five siblings and they don't seem to care.

    I just pray that your siblings will let your father leave this Earth with closure and dignity. I pray that a cease fire will somehow get your family though this.

    And I pray for you, Jen. I hope that you can get through this with the love of your husband and children.

  5. One of many cuzzins!1/6/09, 6:40 PM


    Good for you, Jen. You've got a couple of brass ones kiddo!!

    Hopefully your letter will be well received and your older brothers & sisters will heed your message. This is the time to come together as a positive force.


    You are all so smart, have so much to offer, and you all have good hearts. Regardless of the past, you owe it to your Mom & Dad, each other and your children to work together as a team. Friends come and go, but your family is always there. We all bicker, argue, fight. But we have to move on, put the past behind us and suck it up. Family is family. PERIOD.

    God bless you all!

  6. This is really powerful. I have never commented before but AWESOME post! Thank you.

  7. Anyone would be lucky to have you as their little sister. I hope your family realizes the importance of what you are trying to do with your letter to them.
    Again, ((hugs)) and prayers.

  8. Hi Jen,

    I follow your blog for a short time now and I was going to comment on the facebook-story because I made similar experience.
    But now I see that you have more worrying issues on your mind and I hope that things take a good turn.

    My sister and I were not talking to each other when my dad got cancer. I moved him to a hospice and during the time there my sister and I didn't get along at all. Some time after his death we were able to set up a new relationship. This happened 5 years ago and today we call each other a few times a week and have a very good relationship.
    You see, it may take some time but eventually you will get closer again. Don't lose hope.
    I hope your family reads your blog and they come to reason.

    All the best,

  9. Beautiful, Jen. I hope everyone can get a long and make amends. I lost my mother 5 years ago this month and my father 2 years ago in July. It's been most difficult. You have such a big heart and so much compassion and I really feel that YOU will be the one to draw everyone close. I will keep you and your family, especially your dad in my thoughts and prayers. Hugs to you my friend.

  10. Jen,
    I sent you an email at the address listed on your profile. I hope you get it. Please let me kow if it can be a help to you.


  11. ((((((((Jen's Family))))))))

    Life *is* too short.

  12. I truly believe a curse is on the family unit in general. So many little things being blown up and carried for years and years etc. Cjanerun is from an incredible family, I can not get enough of her and Steph since Aug. But I think they are not the norm anymore. Most families are becoming "holiday families". Maybe I am being a pesstimist but it is what I see and hear that makes me say that. What you say in this post sounds so simple so elementary but the older we get the harder simple becomes.

    On the healthcare side of it. Do your best to get your dad home. The more he does for himself the better off he is. Hospices is a great resource for care at home, they have the ability to bring in a team of support and medical resources. He does not have to be "dying" to be admitted just declining.....which we all are. I will be praying for you and your family. I hope you have peace soon.

  13. Jen, I don't know whats going on within your family, but your post made me cry.
    I cried for the silly arguments that I have between my sisters.
    I cried for the silly bickering that we usually do about nothing important.
    I cried for my dad, who although he passed away 20-years ago, I think of him and miss him every.single.day.
    Because of you I am going to make a couple of "I love you" calls today. Especially to the ones that I love the least.
    Hugs to you and your family,
    Linda (Chicago)

  14. Right FREAKING On Jen!!!!!!!!!!

  15. One of many cuzzins!1/7/09, 11:59 AM

    Hey Jenny!

    I've re-read your letter about 8 times. You said so much and said it well. So much wisdom.

    I hope you've heard back from EVERYONE...but I realize that is probably unlikely.

    Just wanted to let you know that you're in my thoughts. It is a miserable day today in New England. Snow & freezing rain, the kids had a school delay. After I dropped them off, I went to Mass for all of you. I hope you will all sort through this foggy darkness and start realizing how bright your lives can become with a little appreciation for each other.

    Your father made his fortune in offspring...not pharmaceuticals. His life & work was all a sham if his sons and daughters cannot be united in his name. His money will haunt each and every one of you, if you let him die with all this sibling disharmony.

    Your Dad has more life in him than everyone thinks. He won't just lay down and die....that only happens on TV. Show him how relationships should work... communication, give and take, agreeing to disagree, acceptance, cooperation, negotiation, listening...RECONCILIATION.

    You all deserve the peace and security of FAMILY. My prayer for all of you is that you have the ability to give that gift to one another. Give that gift to your Dad and your Mom.

    Be at peace!

  16. Good for you! I hope they hear you.

  17. I pray this will fall on ears willing to hear you.

    Congrats on being so brave and strong. Controversy is hard and I avoid it more than I should...thanks for showing strength--you are inspiring.

  18. Hi Jen,

    We all have disharmony in our lives and wounds that seem to grow deeper rather than heal through the years. Trivial differences are blown out of proportion and before you know it 5, 10 or 20+ years have passed.

    Although you have not had to endure the loss of a family member, The Foley's have had to endure the tragic loss of your family's life together. It was a very difficult time for all of you.

    Hopefully, your siblings will respond to your plea in and reunite in a positive manner. It would be good to see you all together again.

    I think my sister hit the nail on the head. Your Dad has more life in him than you think. Most likely he wants to challenge you all to come together again as a family.

    You have all missed so much. The older I get, the shorter life seems.

    Good Luck in your quest for family harmony. It will be difficult to achieve.

    Your other Cuz,

  19. Dear Jen: This post is so sad. I often thought that I understood the pain of divorce being that I went through one and divorced my sons father. I find that I have never fully realized the toal that a broken family has on the children, until now.

    Each of you have been so kind in word, actions and prayer to so many. It is my hope that you can do the same for one another.

    During this time in our lives of my father's illness we too have had our problems. There have been a lot of roses...With the help of my parents it has taken a lot of work to pull the weeds from the flower beds. -- Although beautiful, sweet scented, and variety in color, roses do have thorns.

    Be careful. I pray for healing for each of you. Love to all. Love, Marg.

  20. So very well written! I cried!

  21. Jen, this was beautiful. I am lucky, when my father passed my siblings bound together in a way that I would have never imagined. The youngest was 18, and he and i were still in college. They all insisted on us finishing, no matter what it took. It was the best gift they have ever given.

    I hope your family responded positivly....and I hope you guys can find some peace in the time you have left wtih your dad.