January 11, 2010

Family Drama

A dear friend of the family, Erma, has died. She, her husband, my maternal grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and several of their friends had a swinging card club when I was a kid. I view those early days of my life like a TV series or movies I've watched. I know I was in them but those experiences seem other-worldly to me now. I probably last saw her at a funeral in December 1999. She called me a few months ago looking for my mother's phone number - my mother has lived in the south since 1994. I gave her the number and we ended up chatting for quite some time. She was always a lovely lady - kind, motherly, nurturing, generous and tenacious. I feel a bit guilty that I didn't call her up to speak with her again or coordinate a visit. I hope she and the rest of the gang are having a rousing game of cards!

I plan to attend the service. I want to out of respect for what she meant to me, my mother and my grandparents. gulp. I'm not looking forward to seeing other family members. My mother and her two brothers don't speak. We don't speak either. The youngest brother was only eighteen or so when I was born. He is my godfather. I thought the world of him. He's probably the reason one of my dream cars is a GTO. I was kind of a chubby kid growing up. I was also kind of smart with thick, Coke bottle-bottomed glasses. Add these to unusual first and last names and it's a recipe for childhood disaster. I was teased A LOT. I grew up tough on the inside. Side story - Chunky came home from school a couple of years ago crying because someone had teased him about his last name. It rhymes with a vegetable. A boring, benign vegetable. I told him to go back the next day and tell them to get more creative. Anywho ... my uncle married a beautiful, fun lady and I thought they were the cats pajamas sorry, I'm old. As they matured in life, they had kids and their own drama. My aunt began to berate me at dinner if I had an extra helping or goad me that I didn't need dessert. It didn't feel good and it felt even worse because I had looked up to her. I began to resent her. Other family drama ensued over the years I should really write a book ala Carrie Fischer - I'd be a gagillionaire. Finally at one family gathering, words were exchanged and I stood up for myself I think my mother did first and then I found my voice. My grandma just wanted everyone to get along and more words were spoken, sides chosen and I walked away with a severely wounded relationship with my grandma and a pledge to exorcise the aunt and uncle from my life. My grandma and I eventually made up, albeit several months later. I never really said more than a sentence to my aunt and uncle again. I got married, moved away, grandma died, we moved back, had kids, and we never interacted with my aunt and uncle. Until four or five years ago. My uncle called out of the blue to say he was at a crossroads in his life and reaching out to make amends to people he'd wronged. He apologized to me for any part he may have played in the breakdown of my relationship with grandma and said he'd like to get together to talk. I thanked him for the apology and said I'd be okay with getting together at a public restaurant. He never called back. I never think of him or that time in my life. If an errant memory ever crops up, I simply think geesh, some peoples' kids! I'm thinking that Erma's service may lead to an interaction. I've already planned my response. If approached, I will be courteous and if pushed to discuss our relationship I will politely say that it is not the time or place for an in-depth discussion. I want to honor Erma. Her service is not the the occasion for our family drama. If it is the catalyst for a separate meeting and discussion, that's fine. We'll see how it goes. Mom - we'll have to talk about a book deal. Names may need to be changed to protect the guilty :)

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