Monday, July 17, 2017
I have survived
You know how family visits can go when you are dreading them.
They can go good. They can go bad. They can go completely off the rails.
We had the husband's family in for Thanksgiving in May, and it went like Thanksgiving in November. They are good people, and I am happy to be in the family. But they are different.
When something bothers them, they push it down. Deep, deep, down. They put it in a vault, they lock it away and it disappears. Well, not really, it's always there. But it isn't brought up. They are very WASP in that regard.
My own family is somewhat divided.
I have my mothers people - Methodist Episcopalian's who I only hear from when they want something.
I have my father's people, who I hear from even less, save the brother and the nieces and two second cousins.
My problem is that my mother's family would just as assume that they have no kin. In that respect, there has to be a real reason why they are contacting you. You'll never get a call saying "Cookie, how are you." Nope, that doesn't happen. What does happen is you get a message. "Aunt Cleo wants to know if you have her grandfather's date of death. So I guess I should ask how you are."
Then there is my father's family is a different dynamic. We have family. We just don't see them, but they are there. Plus, because they are Jewish, it comes with it's own emotional levers that are different from my mother's family. With them its:
"Just so you know, Debbie and Deborah aren't speaking because Deborah took Debbie's seat at the Rosenblatt wedding."
How is that a problem? Can't the Debbie's figure it out on their own?
"Debbie wanted to sit with the Plotnick's, and Deborah switched the placecards. So she and Morton ended up at a table with the Goldfarb's. She was trying to avoid Danny Goldfarb because they had that thing at camp in 1971, and now Danny always brings it up."
Couldn't she just sit someplace else?
"Like where? The kiddie table?"
Deborah has always been a bit...
"And at seventy you expect her to change? I mean she is always going to pain in the ass she's always been...anyway we need to keep them at separate tables."
Suffice it to say that the husband was along, thank God. I mean we've been together for 20 years, and they were going to have to meet him sooner or later.
So, what happened at the reunion?
Well, I am not going into details, suffice it to say that we had our own versions of what happened. Our sturm and drang is on a individual basis.
What I will say is that I had a perfectly wonderful time.
No, seriously. It was totally fun.
Trust me, no one is as surprised as I am, but having the husband there really made the trip pleasant.
That our relationship has exceeded any of my father's million marriages, well, lets say that the best revenge in life is to be able to love and accept love.
As for the family, they have their issues and charms. None of them are my fault. At all.
For years I denied my father's family access into my life. I was not them, and they were not me. Look what it got me. Not much but thirty years of psych bills.
But, what I have learned in my own way is that you can't chose one side over another; you have to embrace who your people are.
Now had someone other than my father pulled me aside years ago and told something like "Look, I know that life seems like it sucks. And I know that you just want to belong to some normal family. But you have to navigate the world with what you have. And while you don't feel like now, trust me, in thirty or so years you are going better rounded, happier and more successful because you are different from the rest. Hang in there - it'll turn out fine." Well, then, wisdom comes with age.
That might take years of therapy, and some ranting and raving, but somehow - when you know who you are - you can be happy when the people the who are regretting the decisions they have made in their lives are miserable with the outcomes when their mortality rears its head, because they haven't figured out who they are.
Would I go to another? Oh, hell yes. And this time I am bringing the genealogy.