Category Archives: family

Thursday, are you sure?

You know how some days of the week just have a particular feeling? Somehow today should have been a Sunday or maybe even a Saturday. It just feels that way deep down in the tips of my toes. (And no, it is not due to any vestigial hangover or anything else. I drank and partied not to bring in the New Year.)

Yesterday when I dropped by Mom’s to pick up some Christmas stuff, it was decided it would be nice to have a few people over house for New Year’s Day. (By virtue of being a people I got invited as well.) So Aunt J and Uncle J (Mom’s brother and his wife from 90 miles up the road), Ruth, Marlene, my MIL and Mom were all present at the appointed hour. Of course there was food galore. Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind the leftovers, here was a whole new feast. (It seems like seasonal denial the way good food keeps appearing in front of my face even as the holidays pass. I think it is a plot by the universe to make sure that I continue to overeat. The universe is a malevolent place!)

The afternoon following the meal was originally planned for Mexican Train, but the conversation got going and we never got around to playing cards. It was a worthy trade off. Just sitting around with family and acquaintances, carrying on good conversation for hours on a variety of topics with no background blare of TV is so rare. It is one of those lost pleasures of Sunday afternoons that I remember from my childhood. That is precisely what we did for hours and hours.

The breadth of topics and viewpoints that can come up in diverse group like today’s is interesting. I was the proverbial spring chicken of the group. Everyone else was between 65 and 95 years of age. There were rabid democrats and colorful republicans and political agnostics. There were conservatives and liberals. I enjoy the give and take and respect of others viewpoints. (Actually, it could just be that we are all going deaf and …)

I also enjoy it because it is a chance to hear stories from the childhood of Mom and her family as well as stories that go back to the times and conditions even before her birth. I also heard some stories from Uncle J about my great grandfather that I hadn’t heard before. I knew my great grandfather only as a figure from early grade school since he died about the time I was in third grade. But Uncle J had a relationship with great grandpa that had elements in common with the relationship I had with my grandfather. It is interesting to see how there is that family continuity through the years. Many of those grandfather/grandson relationships will be very different current generations because of the later ages at which families have kids. It will be interesting to see what develops to replace them.

Well, time to sign off and prepare for the oddness of “one-day week” Friday.

I’m dead, but don’t tell the children

Have you ever noticed how some families regard everything as fair game for sharing? And other families regard information about anything as a top secret affair? That kind of oil and water mix is my and my wife’s families.
My family regards anything as fair game for sharing and bringing out into the open. If Uncle Joe has a boil on his butt, you can be sure that all will get a chance to view and comment on it. If Aunt Susie thinks her exploratory surgery scar is neat, we will all get a chance to discuss it after dinner.  And if someone has a serious illness, it is nothing to be hidden, but is to be brought forth and shared.  And that sharing is powerful because it means the love and support is available to the afflicted and those who care for them.
Imagine my shock many years ago, when we were newlyweds, and I discovered my wife’s family is exactly the opposite. Great Grandma may be in the hospital and dying, but no one will speak of it.  Many is the time when we have accidentally discovered someone was in the hospital or seriously ill after the fact.  I am still suprised that funerals are announced – after all the illness was hidden, why let on that the person died? When asked, her family always maintains they just didn’t want anyone to worry about them. Needless to say, I would much rather know and share. My wife has come around to a similar view after spending all these years together.  I guess I could be considered a bad influence.
Now that my wife’s mother is widowed and lives here in this small town near us, she cannot easily hide things.  That doesn’t stop her from telling my wife “don’t tell your brother”on a regular basis. It can be when she is ill, or in the hospital, or just feeling lonely. Thus, we plan to write a humorous book on dealing with the exasperating foibles of parents. And the title? You got it – “I’m dead, but don’t tell the children.” Look for it in your bookstore in a few decades when we have time to write it.