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So, here I am, sitting in a classroom where I am giving an exam, meaning I have nothing to do for an hour and a half except sit here and let them ask me questions, which mostly they don’t do.  I’m giving the exam today because Greg’s surgery is tomorrow, and I know I’m going to be distracted.  Two weeks ago, on the day before the first surgery, I had a hard time concentrating in class, so I thought that since I had to give this test anyway, I’d do it today.  If I’m distracted, nobody knows but me.

And you, if you’re reading this.

But I’m not so much distracted as tired.  We buried my mother yesterday, with a short Greek Orthodox service at the gravesite, on Tuesday of the Greek Orthodox holy week.  It was cold and wet and dismal in general, and made even more so by the fact that I had to see a lot of people I didn’t want to see, and would be happy never to see again as long as I live. 

On top of that, I had a really odd reaction.  It turns out that my niece and nephews, my brother’s children, have been going down to Florida and stopping in on my mother for years, and some of my cousins from her side of the family as well, without ever telling me anything about it.   They’ve also been trying to contact her guardian (he wouldn’t talk to them) and her medical people (they wouldn’t talk to them either) to get information about…well, everything.

And part of me thinks that this was of course well meant, and that it did my mother good to have visitors on occassion (true)–but my gut reaction to all this is to be absolutely furious.  I am not sure I have rational reasons for the fury.  Part of it is the fact that some of these people didn’t like her at all, and said so–and unlike me, who didn’t get along with my mother either, can’t claim being her child as a reason to feel they had a right to her.

Some of it is a reaction to the reality of what happened after my brother’s divorce, when neither his children nor his wife got in touch with my family for eight solid years.  During that period of time, my father died and my mother sank so deep into dementia that she no longer recognized anybody.   Then suddenly, all this, bustling around, going to look at the house my father built to see if it had been sold, trying to find out…oh, damn.  On and on and on.

And, okay, part of it is my sneaking suspicion that for some of these people, the sudden interest is mostly about my mother’s money, which, given Florida law, passes equally to me and to my brother’s heirs. 

But mostly it’s just the effrontery.  She’s my mother.  You can call me up and tell me you’ve been to see her. 

All right, maybe I’m just being idiotic here. 

But I’ve calmed down some, and now if I could calm down about the surgery, I’d be good. 

Or maybe not.

I look at the two sides of my family and I’m just flabbergasted.  On my father’s side, it’s full of sane people, albeit sane people who are workaholics with a mania for becoming overeducated.  On my mother’s side, the atmosphere is so poisonous, I find it hard to understand how they manage to get through the days without self-destructing.   It’s like half of them have turned pettiness, jealousy and spite into Watchwords for Living,  and the other half have accepted the flak because…I don’t know.

Ack.  This is probably just me being wound up for the week.

The week-end will come, and I will cocoon for three days.  I’m not even doing an Easter dinner this year, since Greg tires easily the first few days after he does these and we don’t want too much going on around him.  

And I’ve got my cheerful book–At Bertram’s Hotel, one of my favorite Marples, found miraculously last week when I hadn’t seen it in a year.

There’s even an America’s Next Top Model marathon on Saturday.

Written by janeh

April 20th, 2011 at 8:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'Waiting'

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  1. Well, with money at stake, some friction is probably inevitable.
    We have the usual inter- and intra-generational quarrels, but the worst my people ever had with different portions of the family were Beverfordens claiming (improbably) to have once been VON Beverfordens, and hence outranking mere Piepenbrinks. But this generally only came up when the argument was already well under way.

    As for family gatherings, whether weddings funerals or Thanksgivings, sometimes one can be thankful they went well, sometimes one can be grateful they weren’t worse, and sometimes one can just be glad they’re over. You seem to have hit between (2) and (3).

    A three-day cocoon sounds like an excellent idea.


    20 Apr 11 at 5:03 pm

  2. There’s nothing like a death to bring out family, ummm, differences. I never knew my father’s relatives well because they all lived in the US, and by the time my parents and two of my sibs moved there for a while, and spent time with some of them, my other sib and I were grown and on our own and didn’t go. Most of them I haven’t seen since very early childhood; the few I do remember have died since, and, well, it takes effort as well as blood to maintain family ties. Two emails from a cousin who suddenly re-appeared when her estranged mother died hardly count as a close relationship.

    I know my mother’s family very well, although I generally see none of them besides my mother, and now that she’s back home, sometimes her surviving brother and sister-in-law. We don’t do the family gathering thing any more, thank God. I mean, some of them I like; one or two I like (or liked) a lot, but a number of them have this ‘have a nice loud screaming fight, get everything off your chest, and then proceed with life, feeling much better’ approach to things, which I find extremely trying. And then there’s the tendency, during rather fraught periods, to drag up old grudges dating back before I was born. I don’t really care who did what to whom in the 1940s!

    I think I’ve achieved enough detachment and distance to accept them (well, the still-living ones) as they are, most of the time. I doubt my vaunted tolerance would last through a family gathering, though.

    There was the time one relative was criticized by others for turning up at a funeral so draped in black that it was felt she overshadowed the main mourners – and this a funeral for someone she’d caused problems for… but I’m past all this stuff now. Or at least I’m trying to be!

    I’m still working my way through the older Miss Marple TV shows, but I’m having trouble staying up late enough to watch them after my very long days. My idea of luxury is to finally have enough sleep!


    21 Apr 11 at 6:30 am

  3. There are three or four separate wars going on within and between several sections of our extended families. Most of these have been bubbling away for years if not generations like the geysers in Yellowstone and similar environments, occasionally erupting into spectacular displays. Fortunately, being so long in the military and thus usually employed far from the madding crowds, I and my family have missed most of these, but the fallout from some of them have caused us a degree of collateral damage from time to time.

    For sheer unmitigated bastardry, there is nothing to match family squabbles. The people involved usually know each other so well that they have few if any inhibitions that tend to limit the excesses of disagreements between strangers.


    21 Apr 11 at 8:33 am

  4. I’ve missed out on family feuds since I’ve been in Australia for 40 years and all the relatives are in the US. That also means missing out on weddings and funerals and birthdays.

    There are disadvantages to having no family when one is 75 but …


    21 Apr 11 at 6:51 pm

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