I have a family of origin
It’s spring break around here for my nieces. Truthfully, my kids have been on spring break since the end of February. That’s how it always goes with us. We take a huge break from doing math from the end of winter until about May and then we get back into the swing of things. Sometimes I have them go to Quizlet.com and play games there, but not while their cousins are here. For sure.
I posted some pictures of my messy, messy, nothing is where it actually goes house. It’s extra messy because of the sleepover/spring break/let’s not make the children do chores attitude that’s going on this week. It felt false to kick the blankets/stuffed animals/toys out of the way before snapping pics like this:
That’s what the basement looks like every morning this week. Oh well. At least there are some sweet pictures like this to maybe redeem me:
How could I make these sweet girls clean up their bedding? What kind of a monster would I be? They’re obviously chillin’.
So I made a couple of pork roasts in the crockpot the other day and turned them into shredded pork bbq. It was yummy, but that’s not the point. Certain foods in my life are tied to memories of certain people. I don’t want to say that the food is the most important part of the memory and the person is just secondary, but it seems like my most vivid memories of people have to do with food.
Every single time I make a pork roast, I think of my ex-stepdad, Marc. When I was a junior in high school, he and my mom got married. Not only were we able to move out of our apartment up above Dave’s bar, but this marriage came with a Sam’s Club card and a dude that was a great cook. (Yes, those facts were more important to me than the fact that my mom was also able to get rid of that perpetually muffler-less Chevette in favof the Beretta of Hotness.) After 7 years eating frozen chicken patties, chili, spaghetti, canned ravioli, steak ums, and the like, I couldn’t believe it when I came home from a greuling softball practice with my friend Katie, “starving for death” as Maya would say and Marc had a pork roast in the crockpot. A pork roast with onions, potatoes, carrots and special seasonings. I instantly started drooling, asked him what it was, and then proceeded to eat half the thing over the kitchen sink. With my hands. Like an orphan. I’m pretty sure I grunted and hunched to warn the other animals not to touch my food. I can’t speak for Katie, but “scarfing it down” doesn’t even begin to describe what I was doing. I know for sure that I didn’t even take the time to put my softball glove down. It was still clutched in my armpit. I was starving for death and there was real food. And my stepdad is the type of person who doesn’t know you love him unless you’re eating his food. Especially if you’re eating it over the sink, straight out of the pot, which, as anybody knows, is the best way to eat food.
My brother does this thing where he plays his guitar and harmonica and sings good songs and stuff. He’s going to do it at Gresso’s in Columbus on April 10th or 11th. Do you wanna come see? I’ll be there! If that doesn’t sweeten the deal, I don’t know what will.
Here’s a mellow sample. He does less mellow, too. And his own stuff. It’s all good. That reminds me, I saw a comedian once say, “I think it’s unfair that Neil Young can sing, play guitar, and play harmonica all at the same time and everybody loves it and he’s a serious artist and everything, but if he were to add a pair of cymbals to his knees, then he’d just be a moron.” Here’s my brother, sans cymbals:
And I’m not just saying that because this is what happens to me when I post about their oldness:
In this picture: Tracey (almost 40), Abby (just over 30), and Mike (40+)
It was just a love-tap. All in fun, really. And I’m not just saying that in the way that hostages sometimes have to go on camera and read a letter that says, “I’m ok. My captors are lovely and I’m being treated swell. No hurry. They’re really nice. You should totally give them what they want, though.”
I had a dream last night that I saw Regis Philbin in Chesaning, right on the corner Chapman and W. Broad at the Malt Shop. And I took a picture of him with my camera phone. And my dream-head was planning to frame it for my father-in-law because he watches Regis and Kelly every day. Finally, the perfect gift! Hm.
Yes, we’re going to Chesaning on Thursday for my grandmother’s “funeral.” We’ll be there for less than 24 hours, but we’ll be able to see my mom (she moved to West Virginia to be with my brother for a while so we didn’t see her during our last visit) and my old brother and his young family. (FYI, these are 2 of my brother’s sons reviewing Transformers: Energon at Kids Know Stuff). How could we resist a chance to squeeze those cheeks? We can’t.
So, I know you can’t tell it by that obituary link up there, but my grandmother had 8 kids and around 20 grandchildren and 14? great-grandchildren. And she leaves a legacy of verbal and physical abuse from which even my generation is still trying to recover (well, maybe you can tell that part from the teeny obit). My mom (and probably all of her siblings) did better than Grandma, and I hope my generation is improving on the last, and I hope the next generation does better still. Her death is strange for me. Only a few of her kids and even less of her grandkids were still visiting her on a regular basis. The rest of us giving up in favor of keeping our own mental health intact.
When I was around 19-22 or so, I visited her endlessly hoping for insight and change. And probably approval. That was the height of my Christianity and I felt Jesus would give me the strength and Jesus could help me love her and in turn help her love me. Even Jesus’ blood isn’t that magical.
I can’t tell you how many times I witnessed her tell my mother in scary seriousness that she wished my mom and every one of her “goddamn kids” were never born. I can’t tell you how many times I visited her only to leave feeling like my soul had been sucked into a black hole, beaten and torn apart, and then spat out in pieces with a smirk. One very brief minute everything was lovely and the next hundred years of minutes she was tearing me or somebody I loved apart with a verbal attack that would continue even as I walked out the door in tears. I’m sure there was some kind of mental imbalance, but it’s hard to feel sorry. There are so many specific examples I’d like to share, but they’re all mean. I don’t have a single good memory of her except that she smelled of peppermint gum, and the fact that she was a school bus driver who would take her bus load of kids to the A&W on the last day of school for a special treat.
I rode her bus briefly in elementary school and I was in on one of the end-of-the-year A&W trips. Even at such a young age, I had a really hard time reconciling this woman who I knew to be completely mean, with this woman who was so loving to strangers. As an adult, I would point to the beloved-bus-driver argument as the seed of hope that was the impetus for my many visits with her. Anyway, I thought her death wouldn’t affect me at all, but it has of course. Just the fact that she had all of this family and managed to alienate and/or terrify the lot of us. It’s too much to go into right now, I’m afraid. Suffice it to say that I was going to create a post around this picture, taken when I was out of the house for 2 measly hours:
The post was going to be all “Jesus H. Christ, I was with her all day and she had to sleep with our wedding picture because I left for 2 hours in the evening! Come on! The neediness is exhausting.” And now I look at that picture and cry because I know I don’t meet her needs. I know I don’t try hard enough. And I have my doubts as to whether I have it in me to do better.
If my grandma took my sarcasm with her to the grave, I’m going to be pissed.
And today he’s 40.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! My brother is 40. Don’t tell my sister, but she’ll be 40 this year too. In about 11 months. (My parents thumbed their noses at silly things like birth control and abstaining from sex for 6 weeks after the birth of a baby. “Pish-posh” said they, and then they had 2 babies in the same year. Dummies).
I like to tease my brother and sister about being born in the 60s since the rest of us (meaning their spouses and Bryan and I) were born in the 70s. My sister protests and thinks she’s as young as we are because she was born a mere 2 weeks before 1969 ended and her husband was born only 3 weeks into 1970, but the protest doesn’t stand. It was the 60s. Everything was different back then. And things that were around back then are old now. I didn’t make the rules.
My 40-year-old brother lives all the way in West Virginia now, but our grandmother saw fit to die yesterday* so her favorite grandson would have an excuse to travel to Chesaning so he could spend his 40th birthday at Dave’s bar playing Setback with his dumb ol’ buddies. Why yes, I did just spend 12 days in Chesaning, during which time my grandmother was in the process of dying and, yes, she actually did wait until the day after I arrived back in Columbus to die. Par. For. The. Course. Mikey was always her favorite. And for that, he’s a douche.