Archive for November, 2015
Going to Frank’s door never gets any less creepy. He sees me as I’m getting out of my car, but remains standing at the front window watching me make my way to his front door. I smile, and wave. He stands, and stares. Mom also stands at the front door looking through the window. I know that she clearly sees me, but she never opens the door until I actually knock. Yep you read that right we are face to face through the glass on the front door looking at one another, but still I have to knock before she will open the door.
As I speak with mom about what my plans are for our time together Frank wanders up giving her the your excused look. Without any further conversation she walks away picks up her purse, and leaves. So I say hello, he immediately wants to know what I have in my bag. I smile, then I ask if I can get a hello. He stares up at me for a moment almost like he’s trying to decide whether or not to say hello, then finally says hello.
He asked me if I had gotten everything on the list we made together. I told him no not all of it, but I did come with all the supplies so we could start working on our potions. He then asks me why I hadn’t gotten the other things on the list. I smile again, and tell him that Rome wasn’t built in a day. He replies that since his mother canceled our last two visits I should have had enough time to shop.
Now I am slightly annoyed so I tell him that we will not be buying everything on the list, and that he should look forward to being surprised each visit to see what I will be bringing. He was surprised by my stern tone, and did not continue to push the subject. I then brought out 9 tiny clear containers, each one contained a tablespoon of spice. Various colors, textures, and all of them deeply aromatic. Trying to appeal to his desire to make potions, and his need to smell everything.
He wanted to make potions that did stuff to people. I told him as a scientist he had a responsibility to invent potions to better mankind. We explored all the scents, textures, and finally tastes. I brought him a book on healing spices so he could see that this wasn’t baby stuff. I even brought additional potion containers so he could mix any combination of spices he wanted to mix. We even made scented cards. Then his mother arrived so we cleaned up. I was feeling pretty confident about my ability to take his mind off his usual focus. Then as I was walking out the door he looks up at me, and says next time bring the ax.
Well, per usual I spent Thanksgiving with my cousin’s family. If you have been confused with my family dynamic…. well, join the club. Why should I be the only one? As far as my cousins and I have been able to discern from our earlier generations…
Great Great and Great-grandparents = Embodied heavenly creatures brought forth to make entire childhoods more epic and special than even the most tear-jerking of xmas films. At least per Grand and her kids to some extent.
Dead grandparent = At least somewhat beloved by all four children, especially my mother. Despised by spouse, based on how they were mentioned our entire lives. Only one cousin remembers this person and yes, fondly.
Grand = one of the single most psychotic creatures I have ever had the misfortune to meet, let alone be raised by. When spouse died within a month of their father dying, Grand snapped and seemed to spend their life devoted to the sole destruction of their own family. Their children remember them mostly as “typical” but not “involved.”
Grand and spouse’s four children = four of the most worthless fucking parents, and sometimes people, the world has ever had the disgrace to have on the planet. Not one, as a parent, has been worth a shit. Yes, including my mother. For their children, this ranged from present but withholds love and pride in exchange for preferential treatment (especially competing with their daughter-in-law), too busy picking out the next ex-Mrs. to be bothered being a parent, too busy partying and trying to find Mr. Right in all the Mr. Wrongs, to I’d rather raise the other kids I made instead of my first born but only if it doesn’t interfere with my drinking.
Cousins = the group in which I am in…. we have families, good ones and good friends. For the most part, we all have our heads on pretty solid in spite of at least half of our genetic makeup. However, we are all such different people that had we not shared genetics in even the most minor of way, we’d never speak.
I used to say I was visiting “my closest cousin” or “the cousin to whom I was closest.” I realized over the years that not only was this strictly relative in comparing my relationship with my other cousins, but completely untrue.
We are maybe the two people who might have had more than a passing conversation if we’d met in a waiting room or similar since we are techies. In my family, that’s close. We also have seven years difference in age. He’s the child of the eldest, I’m the child of the youngest. They had 12 years difference.
My cousin and his wife have an awesome kid who is eerily similar to Spawn, interests-wise, despite their six years difference in age. Sadly, they don’t talk to one another. They will both contentedly sit in the same room and play on their phone, computer or draw and not say a word for hours. This makes me sad, but I understand if it doesn’t happen naturally on its own, it will backfire.
My cousin and his wife do very well. They travel quite a bit, spoil their kid rotten and just generally get to do a lot together. I think it’s awesome. Comparatively, I probably make less than a fourth of what they do and we struggle quite a bit. I’m ok with that. The only time I’m not ok with that is when I feel like I’m getting graded for it. This only occurs when I’m visiting them. “Well, you know… you could do X if you just sock a little aside…” Um, no actually I can’t, that ends up lumped into groceries and we need those.
I also get graded on my parenting. Spawn has my level of stubborn when it comes to something they don’t want to do and for the longest time, this mostly focused on putting anything in their mouth that wasn’t pizza, chicken nuggets or french fries. I blame daycare, since they considered mashed potatoes and rice balanced side dishes when served together. Spawn is older now, has made and tasted a quickie version of kimchi even, but if they don’t like it, they’re still not eating it. I don’t have a problem with this.
My cousin’s wife is an awesome cook and I would use these as good reasons for Spawn to try something they “thought” they hated. Spawn would dig in their heels about it not being on that very short list in their head and instead of letting the parent handle it, both my cousin and his wife would gang up on my kid to make them try it. My knee jerk reaction was to do the opposite and let Spawn escape the onslaught.
They didn’t see they were doing anything wrong, but more than once I would have to point out, “I would never have to audacity to parent your kid, it’s not my place. So remember that when the urge strikes you to parent mine.”
The sad thing is this hasn’t happened with just them among my family. It really breaks down your own self worth when you are overstepped because someone thinks they can “handle” your kid better. Is it due to family persistently thinking you are forever 13? Or do they actually see you’re an adult but just think you’re that incompetent?
The whole reason I ever came to this area… I blame first on my mom’s death, the holidays, or those fucking Budweiser holiday commercials… not sure. I sure as hell wasn’t remembering my actual blood relatives when I came up with this idea.
I had a kid on the way and suddenly family took on a very intense meaning. My family was all over 3k miles away, Grand was getting on in years and none of their kids wanted to deal with them.
I would. I’d dealt with their crazy shit most of my life, another 10 years would be nothing to get them out of the solitude they were currently living in. It would give my kid exposure to at least one member of their own family. I was hell bent on making Grand’s twilight years an epic adventure as I learned what it meant to be a parent.
It wasn’t long before, due to Grand and her minions (the three surviving children) I was soundly ousted from that scenario. Grand was packed up and moved off into a house with a friend of the eldest and not long after…. an assisted living facility and then state-funded type you die in.
I’d managed to get some weight and blood sugar meds off Grand just long enough for the eldest to stuff them on a shelf where they put that and more back on. The degeneration was rapid… so so rapid. Within one year there was a walker… and a diaper.
Greed had always been a driving factor for Grand and her eldest was no different… eerily so. The best I could figure is they were under some assumption I had come back to take advantage of Grand and the… wealth? Grand has social security and a mortgage still, in their 80’s. They had lent 25k to the pathetic piece of shit of their youngest son. The same son who told me during that time period “Family decisions will be made by the family… not you.”
Those were our last words.
Example, I took Grand to the grocery store about 2-3 times a week. Grand was addicted to shopping and I noticed they would go up each and every aisle no matter how much they really needed to get. Did you know just doing that, Grand dropped a couple pant sizes in no time?
Grand had an almost desperate need to shove stuff in their cart. Macular degeneration helped a lot during this time period as Grand would focus on one side, while I pulled things out of the cart from the other and put it back. I always made sure there was at least something there to buy for their fix, but it had to stay under 10 bucks total.
With us grocery shopping so often, the food was fresher. Grand loved fruit and I only allowed 3 servings at most per trip, and all had to be different colors. Grand got pissed at me when I wouldn’t let them buy a 10lb bag of oranges (did I mention Grand was diabetic?). I got calls later that I was accused of not feeding Grand.
Whenever I did something that Grand didn’t like, they would start some shit with their kids in order to bully me, I guess? I would take the infant Spawn to visit their other and only living grandmother. Grand told anyone who would listen I was running around with various people, the allusion was that was sleeping around.
I remember one night I had just gotten back to Grand’s about midnight, Spawn conked out in my arms and Grand was rocking away, arms folded, look of disgust mounted on their face. I asked what was wrong. I was told that someone had called Grand to say I’d been out with some member of the opposite sex.
I’d heard shit like this my entire life. I would tell Grand where I was going and give a number, I would come back accused of all sorts of atrocities. This was before caller id, so I had no reason to believe it was wasn’t true. I just could never figure out who the hell looked like me enough or if their friends were just blind and stupid. I didn’t know how to not be defensive growing up, and always felt guilty for nothing.
I quietly walked over to the caller id when Grand refused to tell me who called… there’d been no calls in 27 hours. I asked Grand why they had spent my entire life sitting in that fucking chair coming up with bullshit lies to sling at me for no other reason than their own twisted amusement.
Then I sat down just opposite Grand, got close and said…”If I want to fuck half a dozen people of both genders in front of my infant kid, I’m almost thirty and you cannot do a damn thing to stop it as that is none of your fucking business. Are we understood?”
Grand was pissed, but a small nod told me what I needed. I rose and as I headed to bed I just said “You know, even if that were some sort of weekend hobby I decided to adopt, I still don’t think it would ever make me as shitty a parent as you.”
As time wore on, Grand tried various bullshit in order to regain “control.” With Grand, that’s all it was really about. I wasn’t letting Grand do what they wanted, or control me, so I needed to be disciplined and put in my place.
Thing is, I was the grandchild. Hearing enough various awful things I was apparently doing to Grand was enough to make her surviving children, at least two of them, wonder what the deal was.
The original plan was that Grand and I would me moving in together but there was no way I was moving back to Grand’s house. So in the midst of all of this, on the weekend I was to be moving into the new place (we got Grand up there in advance), I showed up with van full of stuff and find some friend of Grand’s eldest is already living there. I call my cousin to ask what is going on. They have no idea.
I get back in my van, and I head back to Grand’s old house. In three days, I’ve moved to my own place in the next city and I haven’t given anyone the address. I cut off all contact Grand’s kids in the area.
I get calls from Grand begging me to come get them. My paranoid mind is telling me the eldest is recording all of Grand’s conversations, but my logical mind is telling me not even they are that crazy.
They are that crazy.
The eldest proudly declares this when describing a conversation where Grand called their youngest to check on me and then called me to tell me to call the police if they showed up. Seriously.
I tell Grand that they were the catalyst for 99% of this. It sucks that their kids are as stupid and mean as they are, but they should be proud they’d done so well turning them into exactly what they wanted. That being jobless, homeless with an infant was the last situation I wanted to be in and be surrounded by that goon squad. That I didn’t want a damn thing from any of them and I sure as hell wasn’t telling them where I was.
This is also shortly after hearing about how Grand had enlisted the help of their eldest son to take me away from my mom almost 30 years ago. The one time I remember coming near Grand Jr aka the eldest is to pick up the rest of my things that actually did make it up (there’s still more), Spawn is staying with a friend of mine for the day as I will not have them around my kid in case anyone gets any wild ideas for a do-over.
Fast forward to this past holiday. This eldest child of Grand’s I’m civil to out of respect for my cousin. This is the only family he has to invite aside from me and he loves his parent. I get all that. I loved Grand even though I didn’t like them. Unfortunately, the eldest is hellbent on trying to delve right into the past slew of shit I’ve managed to dodge the past ten years.
I don’t want to hear it. I don’t care anymore. Grand had a shitty final ten years and that is on Grand and their kids. I did my best and like all of my life I have never felt a part of this family. I was the unwanted runt Grand brought home, put on a pedestal and proceeded to sink every dime into buying truckloads of unnecessary shit for, making it obvious to every other member of the family who the favored child was, most especially among other grandchildren. Doesn’t help any bonding with your family peers, I can tell you that. I grew up feeling like there was always going to be a sizable bill at the end. That I was expected to make a large income that would enable Grand to have a life they intended to become accustomed.
What a disappointment I must have been.
This eldest went on about how that friend was only staying there until I got there. This stunned me. They asked why I didn’t ask. I told them I did ask, I asked Grand, I asked my cousin when they weren’t available and they were all as clueless as I was.
I was accused of being insanely picky about everything I wanted down to the minor details. I told them that was ridiculous. Sure, I had a lot of things I liked, everybody does, but I wasn’t allowed to be involved in any of the decision-making enough to be accused of being picky. That the entire time any of this was going on, I saw one realtor, who showed us a bunch of overpriced insane shit and next thing I know there just is a place, it’s purchased and their friend is living in it. What I thought didn’t matter and no one asked.
To some degree, it kind of felt like an act and in some other, it seemed like the eldest kind of figured out where they fucked up. I’m sure, if they are like Grand, this will be rewritten in their mind in about a week, much like the “insane demands” I apparently made about… spigots, tiles? I remember a conversation once about things I thought were cool in kitchens. This is the only reference material I can recall on this and it had nothing to do with any places we’d seen. I want a completely stainless steel kitchen with sealed cabinets, a pressure washer and a drain in the floor… because I’m fucking lazy and that sounds awesome. I also want a more awesome chest and thicker hair.
My cousin’s wife… I’m not sure if she was trying to be comforting, but it really just pissed me off more. They were saying that not having someone as venomous as Grand around Spawn is something I should be thankful for. That I should be grateful to the their kids for all of it since it meant I was free of it.
But I’m not. They fucking meddled and pushed me to the side and instead of discussing anything with me, they just meddled more and dealt with Grand like baggage. There is no way NOW of knowing how any of it would have turned out. Grand might still be here, as cantankerous and shitty as ever, but on less meds and less weight and busy… I just wanted them busy and active and not sitting in that stupid rocker all day brooding over who they would fuck with next. Sure, it would have been trying for both me and Spawn, but maybe not as much as it was at the start had we all been allies versus enemies. We were just NEVER given that chance.
All of this BS aside, it shit on so many relationships with my family as well, I have nothing but bad feelings from all of that. If I’d known that then what would have occurred, before coming back to this area, I would have never come and probably headed further west and away from them.
THAT I could have been truly thankful for.
Why is it that that the holidays can bring so much joy for some, and such deep sorrow for others? I think that because of my own childhood circumstances I learned a very valuable skill set very early in life. I developed my own special super power. For the most part I can see something good in most situations. I have taught myself how to look at the worst possible situations as life’s way of teaching me some important lesson.
This of course is not a foolproof superpower, like any other super powers it has it’s own brand of “Kryptonite.” Particularly when I am unable to recognize the lesson, When the lesson becomes a complete enigma with no possible (from my point of view 😉 ) redeeming quality. This is the point where I usually lose my ability to refrain from keeping my mouth shut.
Silence can be golden for the majority of life’s most miserable moments. It allows you to take a step back, a chance to explore every possible situation with a more rational approach. Rationality over emotional outbursts is by far the best way to avoid misreading most situations. Unfortunately last night my ability to remain both silent, and golden did not happen. I was in fact very much the opposite of silent, and golden.
As it turns out I am pretty pissed at my friends husband’s “Golden Silence.” I can find nothing redeemable about someone walking away from a 30 plus year marriage, with the only explanation being “I just can’t do this anymore.” I can accept that someone has the right to change their life in any way they might deem necessary. What I cannot swallow is their decision to move out right before a major family holiday without giving your spouse the much deserved answer to her question “Why?”
After all the shopping, cleaning, and cooking are done,
we found ourselves entwined in togetherness.
Gathered at the table,
with our bellies full from all the carefully prepared dishes.
Laughter filled the room as we recalled
all the moments that had filled our hearts with joy.
Some of the memories were bittersweet,
and some were now just precious memories
of Thanksgivings that have long since passed.
This is by far my favorite part,
where we make sure to bring along with us,
all those with whom we’ve had to part.
Once we have honored all who have gone,
I look around the room to see
all the wonderful ones who still belong.
Over a dozen years ago today I was working a double shift at a telecommunications center that was trying to ramp up for holiday volume. My mom and I were instant messaging back and forth about plans for the upcoming holiday well into midnight. We said our “I love you’s” and “good night’s,” her very last message being how her boyfriend would be coming down.
I didn’t like how my mother behaved around the men she was dating, and this one was no different. This was the first one that wasn’t married, a junkie, a drunk, a loser, or some variation thereof and I could tell she was pretty serious about him. I didn’t dislike him either. I truly felt my mom deserved someone good for a change.
However, I hated how she spoke higher and more sing-songy when he was around. How her very quick and sharp wit was dulled and muted in order to keep the spotlight on her man. My mom was the type of person you’d want to have your back in a beer brawl. Her Mrs. Cleaver act around guys just pissed me off.
I sent a final message opting out of spending the holiday with her, using work as an excuse, and wishing her a good time with the boyfriend.
I cannot express enough the relief when I found that message unread two days later.
When my message arrived, my mom had dozed off in front of the TV, and in less than an hour a blood clot traveled to her lungs and suffocated her in her sleep. She never reached fifty years of age.
A little over a day later, her boyfriend would be the one to find her still on the couch.
I’m sitting at work, on a Saturday, working another double shift with a hundred pairs of eyes on me while a coroner calls me to tell me casually my mother is dead and how by the decomposition and smell of the body, how he managed to estimate the time of death.
I’m also pissed that this man dares to fuck with me over such a thing. There is no way my hiking, fishing, outdoorsy loving mother would be dead.
I put the call on hold and walk to a back office. I have no clue what my face shows at this point, only that all one hundred sets of those eyes are watching me in shock.
When I pick up this call, I start tearing into this man for the shitty human being he is, how my mother would kick his ass if she knew what he was trying to pull. He never responded, except to give me his number and I hang up on him.
It wasn’t until my friend Cris calls me on my cellphone and tells me that she is with my mom’s boyfriend and they are there to pick me up that the weight of it hits me as truth.
Cris was close to my mom, but she’d never met the boyfriend. If she was with him, it was because she is one of those on a short list of emergency numbers my mom keeps of people who know how to find me.
I feel like a building just fell on my chest, I don’t really remember breathing. It gets worse when I see Cris, the boyfriend standing behind and off to the side with downcast eyes as though he somehow doesn’t have the right to be there.
This puzzles me.
I suddenly feel very sorry for him when I realize he has to be one who found her. I also realize I don’t… I don’t want to see her at all.
I also realize this is one of the few people who might actually be hurting as much as I am.
I realize that if I don’t make any other calls, I do need to call Grand and tell them their baby is dead. I’m still at work when I find an empty office and give them the news. It galls me the first response Grand has is “are you ok?”
Cris deals with most of it. I don’t remember much of anything except that it isn’t long later when Cris and another one of my close friends are with me at home. I’ve not cried, I doubt I’ve expressed much of anything. They intermittently ask me if I want anything. I finally tell my friends I love them and appreciate what they are trying to do but I really need them to get the fuck out.
I stared in the dark in my quiet little house for only a little while before I got in the car and headed to my mom’s.
I had my own set of keys to her house, as she did to mine.
I suddenly remember my last text message blowing her off for the holiday. GUILT. It’s blinking unread in her notifications. *SIGH*
I read an email she sent to her boyfriend where she mentioned being just a little disappointed that there had not been any grandchildren from my failed marriage. GUILT.
I curled up into a ball on the couch she died in and for a long time… I cried.
I cried over the fact that the only thing my mom ever wanted from life was the whole marriage and happy home bit. The closest she ever got was the engagement she hadn’t told me about yet to the current boyfriend. He let it slip in the chaos and I’d yet to process it.
I cried over the fact that in all of my almost thirty years on earth, if you took the years that were robbed by Grand, my former spouse and my own stubborn anger… my mom and I had only have seven years of time together. SEVEN.
I was an orphan. I’d long been abandoned by one parent and had spent most of my life feeling like the other one was just half-assing the same. It would be a few more weeks before I would find out just how much of a lie that was, and I would grieve even more.
I stayed on that couch for days.
Then I buried myself in work, and when it came time to leave work, I hit the bars. I had a precarious balance between burying myself in work and inebriation.
I volunteered to train classes at other centers when I couldn’t deal with the fact my co-workers knew about it. When I had to have paperwork notarized, it was a branch manager at another center who did it. They just asked “Why are you even here?”
Grand and my closest cousin came to help clear out paperwork and see if we could find a will. I opted to cremate her, requested a lock of her hair. I’d never done funeral things and we weren’t members of a church. We were outsiders to the area we lived really. I drug my cousin along on my alcohol binges when we had decided to cease and desist in the evening. To this day, we don’t talk about it. He took on the mantra Nevada did… “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” kind of thing. For me that kind of wildness was pretty normal, for him the family man, it was very eye-opening.
By the time I could tolerate other people and could host a wake, only her boyfriend and a few of my friends had come. I had just waited too long for people to keep an eye out for it. I just did everything wrong. MORE GUILT.
I know deep down my mom would never stress about that kind of shit and she would likely make fun of me for doing so. Unfortunately, logic doesn’t seem to have a lot of pull over emotions. It’s sucks like that.
I know my mom would feel bad to know that the holiday season is very bittersweet for me. She was such a massive kid about the holidays, she loved them all and was excited about them and ran at them with wide open arms. It would kill her to know that losing her makes me want to curl back up on that couch every holiday season until its over.
So I don’t.
I try to channel my mom in spite of the scroogy spirit that I have. I realize now I started doing it for Grand’s benefit right after losing my mom and I’ve been doing it for someone’s benefit ever since. Thank goodness it only took a couple years before Spawn came along, since now I don’t have to work to find a focal point.
I try my best to give my kid the kind of holiday environment that would make the grandmother they never knew proud. It’s the least I can do.
Yesterday it took me awhile to try to gather all of my thoughts, my head was spinning from all the trauma of the night before. I called her in the afternoon to make sure her girls arrived safely, and to see if she needed anything. I also asked her if it would be okay if I called to check on him. After a pause she said go ahead.
This is a really difficult situation because even though she, and I are closer I have also been his friend for many years. I know this man to be a kind, intelligent, and good person in every way. He has always been a great husband, and an amazing father. This is the couple everyone loves.
So I went over with some Pumpkin bread, he loves my my Pumpkin bread. I told him “We’ve known each other long enough for me not to have to tell you that I was just in the neighborhood.” He smiled, and asked me if she had sent me over to poison him with my Pumpkin bread. I smiled back, and reminded him I have a reputation to maintain with my bread, so poison was out.
He looked like shit. He asked me if she was okay, and I told him no she’s a mess. Then I asked him straight out “Why?” I told him that, that’s what she kept asking me most of the night. He looked me straight in the eyes, with no hesitation and said ” I just can’t do this any more.” My head was spinning, I began to cry. He told me he just couldn’t talk to me anymore about this, that he just needed some time.
So I nodded, I stood up, hugged him, and then I left. I think some childlike part of me thought he would be able to explain all of this to me. That we would be able to joke, like we always do.That we could move forward, far away from whatever was causing all of this mess, but “We aren’t in Kansas anymore Dorothy.” 😦