Last weekend we had a small gathering. We got together to celebrate the life of our recently departed father. Dad died a couple months ago and didn’t want a memorial service of any kind, but we needed closure. So, being who we are, we modified his wishes. We didn’t have a memorial service, instead we gathered together to celebrate his life, not to mourn his loss. It wasn’t a big affair there were only twenty-three of us. A few relatives were unable to make it, but that’s how it goes sometimes. My brother and his wife and their children and grand-children chose not to attend. (But typically they avoid us like the plague anyway.) There is division in all families and ours is no exception.
Dad was not religious; in fact he abhorred religion in any fashion, but encouraged us to find our own faith, if we wanted to. And we did. We have a variety of faiths in our family; Christian-Moravians, Catholics, Wiccans, agnostics, and atheists, we pretty much cover the entire spectrum. Hell, we even have a minister in the family. So in keeping with our messed-up dynamics, we held our gathering in … wait for it … in a church. Yup! Surprisingly, none of us burst into flame when we entered.
We placed Dad’s ashes in the obvious place … on the altar. He’s probably still rolling over in his grave because we put him on the altar. (Well, he would be if he hadn’t been cremated.) But worse than that, we didn’t give him a drink, so he’s probably really pissed and is likely to start haunting us for not sharing the booze.
Like the rest of us, Dad was a foodie, so we had a barbeque, shared some beverages and swapped some whoppers about all the things Dad did for us and the things he taught us.
My sister and I shared stories; my daughter shared the story of Dad teaching her to drink Jello through a straw in a restaurant. My husband shared, my aunt shared and several of our informally adopted family members shared as well. We swapped whoppers, we laughed, we cried and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Most of us were true family, but about half a dozen were hangers on. You know those people who come into your life, make their presence known and never leave. Somehow, they just end up being part of the family. I mean you Bob and Karyn. Ken and Lynne, and especially you Shirley! You guys are great and it’s a pleasure to have you in our family. (Do be warned, our insanity is contagious, before long you’ll be batshit crazy like the rest of us.)
My nephew was there, with his wife and his two step daughters. They are lovely young ladies. Different as night and day, but both of them pitched in to help out with the food, the watching the babies and the cleaning up. Hey, if I’m their great aunt, step aunt (?), and I’m mean and nasty, does that make me the wicked step-aunt? I hope so!
My daughters played in the mud puddles with their babies, much to the dismay of one husband. (Who knew Scott was a germaphobe?) It was adorable to watch them splashing around and creating a ruckus and staining their clothes.
In the middle of everything, we broke out a case of my most recent novel and I had a grand time signing autographs. The first time someone asked for my autograph, I thought they were nuts. I’m just a nobody who like to make up stories. Now, a couple years later, I kind of get a kick out of inventing funny things to write when I sign my alias on those front pages.
Mostly, the gathering was all fun and games and good memories …. but there were moments when it got weird.
I was headed outside to chase after my granddaughter when a familiar face appeared in the doorway. She walked right up to me, gave me a hug and said. “You’ve got a hair hanging there.” She waved towards my face. “In your eyes. Is it bugging you?” She asked.
I said, “No, is it bugging you?”
Obviously it was, because she reached out and gently moved it aside and seemed relieved when it was back where it belonged.
I said “I didn’t expect to see you here.” As far as I knew she wasn’t on the guest list.
“I’m stalking you,” she said. “After all, you are famous now.
I nearly shit myself laughing at her.
“I’m serious,” she said. “I have all your books. I’ve been a fan since the first one.”
Now, I’m speechless, and if you know me well, you know that doesn’t happen often. I stood there staring at her, gaping like a fish out of water. I didn’t know if I should be thrilled or creeped out. Eventually, I broke away from her and visited with other people.
But wouldn’t you know it, she showed up at Mom’s house afterwards. She said she followed me there. And here I thought I had taken a circuitous enough route to throw her off. Fat lot I know. She hung around, drank our booze, ate our food, snapped some pictures of me, hugged me a couple times and generally made a nuisance of herself. At one point I actually had to threaten her with a restraining order!
Seriously creepy I tell ya. CREEEEEEPY! Damned stalkeratzi anyway! Pictures will likely end up on a porn sight. (Love you anyway, Tamara.)
When we got home, my husband said, “Man your aunt can talk. And talk and talk. I swear I thought she would never get to the end of her stories. She definitely has a gift for gab.”
I laughed and said, “That’s our Edna, like the rest of us she’s a story teller. But we let her come because she makes the best desserts and cabbage rolls.”
Oh, wait! The dessert had nuts (I’m allergic) and she didn’t bring any cabbage rolls! And now that I think about the last time I saw her, she promised to make me poached eggs and I never got those either….. Miserable old boot! (Love ya, Edna!)
I had a great time catching up with my older sister who organized the whole thing. And it was fun getting to know my baby sister and her new man again. (Okay, so he’s been around for years, we just don’t get together often.) It was lovely. Funny how you don’t realize how much you miss someone until you see them again. Andi, I promise it won’t be so long next time. This fall … VEGAS, BABY!
Mom was stoic through it all; she laughed with us and cried with us. I know that inside her heart was breaking, but I think being together and sharing our stories will help bring her some comfort and some peace. I hope so, because she’s our rock. She’s the glue that holds the rest of us nut-jobs together. I’m pretty sure she’s the only sane one in the bunch.
Like I said, my family is great. Weird, nuts, strange, and bizarre, but great. And we are, all of us, including the hangers on and invited in members, bull-shitters! We love a good story and if the real story isn’t that great, we just make it up as we go along! If you hang around long enough you’ll hear the same story over and over and over again. And with each telling it will get more fantastic and unbelievable.