My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Monday, December 16, 2013

Fixing Broken Things

Saturday I went grocery shopping with my dad and then my parents went back down south for the week.
Sunday I woke up thinking it was Monday (it took about two hours for me to get back on track) and I made a huge pan of goulash.

You're caught up on my weekend now.

Today I was struggling with a bit of anxiety. It acts as sort of a paralytic. So instead of running an errand I needed to run in town or working on any of my Christmas baking, I just sort of chilled out until time to pick up my nieces from school.

Picking them up is always fun. Always. I had the least amount of pain I've had around them in quite some time and it makes it so much easier to just soak them up. If you can imagine an 11 and almost 9 year old being really good company... intelligent, witty, creative... they're just the And I don't care if it's lame to say that.

First on our agenda was mailing the RSVP for my cousin's wedding. You wouldn't think mailing something that has a self addressed stamped envelope would be difficult, right? But gosh. The hill to the mailbox is steep. If I'm driving I have to either leave the car in park on that steep hill (not gonna do it!) or block our one lane road. Not that we have much traffic. Anyways... my brother's mailbox is a long way from their house too but it was easy to put the car in park at the bottom of their hill and let the girls get out and put the envelope in the mailbox. Then it became sort of a "who's on first" comedy because the envelope is addressed to Amanda Gant (my cousin) and Amanda Gant (my niece) got the mail mixed up and wasn't sure if the envelope addressed to Amanda Gant should come to the car to go to her house or should go in the mailbox to be mailed out.

This got funnier when my brother stopped by the mailbox on his way in and saw the flag up... so he wasn't sure if the mailman forgot to pick up the envelope that Angie may have mailed to Amanda Gant (our cousin) or if the mailman accidentally put the flag up when dropping off a card for Amanda Gant (his daughter). It's even funnier because neither goes by Amanda.

Then we had this really poignant moment. I was listing the names of the people who would be with us for Christmas. I mentioned Ryan (my son) and Sara (his girlfriend) were coming from Pennsylvania and that Uncle Bryan was coming from New York. And Sarabeth, who has had the wisdom of the aged from the time she was three, asked, "why is that it Ryan and Sara can come from so far away ... and Uncle Bryan can come so far away... and (another uncle) can't come from... where does he live?" So I told her that he lives very close to where Grandma Leta lives (because it's only been a month since we were down for her birthday) and she said, "well, that's not far! Why doesn't he come to any family things?"

And so then... what do you say to a child who, for most of her life has known of this uncle who could have been such a precious part of her life, he and his family, the cousins who are her age, who could have been close friends to her and her sister... how do you explain how someone estranges themself from their family? Because even the part of the family that practices a religion that doesn't permit them to celebrate holidays comes around from time to time. They at least know them.

What do you say? You don't drag skeletons out of the closet and air dirty laundry because there are some things that are not appropriate knowledge for kids. Trust me, once she's older I'll make sure she understands the structure of her family because I think it's important to understand where we all come from and what works and doesn't work. I'm glad that I had an older cousin who made a lot of things make more sense for me as an adult.

I grew up not really knowing several of my aunts and uncles, partly because we have a large family and partly for reasons that never made good sense. I've been so blessed to get to know a few uncles better in my adult years, one by working for him and two courtesy of Facebook. I've also gotten to know cousins who I really only knew by name growing up through the magic of social media... and those relationships are important to me. I never felt like I was missing anything as a child and to be honest, I don't know that I would have ever questioned why there was anyone missing because we did have a big family and we did spend a lot of time together - not just holidays and special occasions but random Mondays, like today.

I'd like to tell you that I gave a really astute and appropriate response to her question. Their mom has a Doctorate in Education and their dad has a Masters in Counseling. The girls get all those astute and appropriate responses from them. Aunt Heather is more likely to respond with something totally unkind like, "his wife is mean and makes them spend every holiday with her family" which I promise, had I said something like that, I would have quickly amended it to something less harsh. Like... "I don't know but it's sad isn't it?" Because it is. And "I miss them". Because I do.

For the most part I just kind of let that storm damaged branch of the family tree be a thing I can't fix. I can only manage the way it makes me feel. It's one of the things that drove me over the edge five years ago and I learned, as a survival tactic, not to let those feelings be the ones I feel very often. It's unhealthy. However, there are times, like today, when it makes me really sad to know that these girls who are bright and funny and full of life... musically talented, good athletes, sweet and loving children... it makes me to sad to know that they don't know this uncle of theirs who is also bright and funny and a gifted dancer. Sarabeth is learning the guitar... her cousin that she doesn't know also plays the guitar. Jamie has a cousin her same age. When they were toddlers they were so sweet together. I doubt they've seen each other in the past five years. It's a waste.

I don't have a conclusion to this blog entry because there is no resolution to this situation. It's something I pray for almost every day. It's a shame. I can't fix it.

And so we went inside and worked on replacing an ornament that Sarabeth made for her friend. The one we made a few weeks ago got broken. It's ok, we had a few spares. So I brought along the glitter glue and the sharpies and we made a new ornament. Because that's something I CAN fix.

And I'll do my best to be at their Christmas concert on Thursday when Sarabeth's chorus sings and Jamie plays the handbells. I asked her what they were doing, meaning what song, and Jamie told me which handbells she was ringing - A6, D2 - gotta love that kid! I'm usually not great at getting out later in the day but I just want them to be surrounded by so many people that love them that they never notice that anyone is missing.

Ultimately, I think that's how it works out anyways. We always end up with the people who are really meant to share our lives.

I came home and ate goulash for dinner and now you're caught up on my Monday. Love and hugs, y'all. All of you, really.


Fat Free JAM said...

Family stuff. I guess we all have it :(