Money Sent Abroad

The half brother was 20-odd years my father’s junior; an unhappy man, with a long list of woes, including his meager salary. His wife had died, leaving him with a brood of tiny children and a life of grinding hardship. Racked with guilt, my father sent his brother some money to tide him over, although he had little to spare.

“I will forever be thankful to your honor for this act of kindness,” the half brother wrote in acknowledgment. But forever is a long time. More letters arrived with more requests. They all started with the same greeting: “I hope you will find this letter of mine with Good Spirit and Fine Health,” as if unaware my father was dying of cancer.

This essay in the New York Times Magazine about watching a father support his poor relatives abroad reminded me of when my father would send money to some of my relatives abroad even when my family of five was living in a one-bedroom apartment and saving up to buy a house. Money. Family ties. It’s complicated.

Photo: Flickr/Norman B. Leventhal

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4 Comments / Post A Comment

jfruh (#161)

My grandmother told me that her parents, Polish Jews who immigrated to New York, used to send money back to siblings in Poland, until one day they included with their monthly letter a picture of themselves standing in front of their car, and that was the end of that.

My father is estranged from his family and won’t speak to them but still sends money back East to his mother. Financial ties are weird, man.

Megano! (#124)

Your Dad and the article letter writer’s Dad are better people than I am. I mean, I would send my Grandma/Grandpa/Aunts on my mother’s side money if I had any to spare, in a heart beat. But not people I never met, who may or may not be scamming me.

In Soviet Russia, mommy & daddy live off YOU.

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