Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Frozen in time....


This is my family. At the front, left, is Mark. And he has HAIR! And of course, he wouldn't be Mark without his bottom lip stuffed full of shit.. er, I mean snuff...

I'm in the middle, and see how UNfat I am? This picture is PRE-good hair, by the way.

To the right is Mitchell, with that million-dollar-smile.

In the back, on the right, is my dad, looking particularly goofy. That's because, apparently, my dad believed if he looked directly at the camera, it would steal his soul. I don't think I own a picture of him looking into the camera. Note that Daddy's jaw is stuffed full of shit also. Lot of shit stuffing goin' on in my family back then, seems like.

On the left, in the back, is my tiny little wonderful mother. My mother with the big hair. The source of most of our smiles.

This is a "frozen moment", a snapshot of one tiny, precious instant, when my family was happy. I can assure you that probably no more than five minutes after this picture was taken, Mitchell was likely doing something that made me call him an asshole, Mark was scrunching up his face, in that look he gets when I'm LOUD, and Daddy was brooding about something that someone did to piss him off.

But my mom's smile, her happiness, would have remained. We were at my Aunt JoAnn's house that day, either for Thanksgiving, or just after Christmas. Mom would have been happy just to spend time with her sister, and my cousin Randy. For that matter, we ALL were happy to be spending time with Jo and Randy. Everyone ignored Uncle Harold, who was a grouchy old bastard. Kevin was practically invisible, and I was the only one who liked JohnPaul.

You couldn't help loving Aunt JoAnn. Her sweetness and willingness to please, combined with her intelligence and wit, well she was just... awesome. Had I not had the absolute WORLD'S MOST WONDERFUL MOTHER, I would have picked Aunt Jo for my mom. Except then Uncle Howie (a name JohnPaul and I called him to piss him off) would have been my dad. And that would not do...

Cousin Randy is one of those people whose goodness is like a light. It shines brightly in any situation, at any time, and on any day or night. He was, and is, just as comfortable playing gin rummy and listening to the woes of his ADORABLE sixteen year old cousin (ME!!) as he was talking politics, coal mining, and unions with my dad. And as comfortable playing chess or shooting pool with my brothers. Randy was who you needed him to be. Friend, confidant, minister, counselor...

My family used to visit Aunt Jo and Uncle Howie several times a year, for overnight visits. They'd come to our house too, though Howie wouldn't usually want to spend the night, the old shit.

Their home was a place of peace for us. An island of calm in the midst of some of our trauma... Most of my happy memories from my childhood somehow involve Cousin Randy or Aunt JoAnn. I don't ever remember not wanting to go visit, or not having a good time while we were there...

_________________________

After my mom died, Aunt Jo, in her grief, cut all of us out of her life. She was angry at my dad, and probably me, for keeping my mom at home to die. Aunt Jo thought mom would have lived longer had she been in the hospital. And maybe she would have, but that was not where she wanted to BE. She wanted to be at home, in her own bed. Surrounded by her things, and her family.

Anyway, for several years I did not see Aunt JoAnn, except by accident. I hid my hurt, and showed my anger, swearing to walk away without a word, should she ever approach me. I don't think anyone was fooled by my show. They knew how much I loved her. The truth is, I WAS angry, but not for the reasons I gave. I didn't care that she was mad at my dad. I didn't care that she thought we shortened mom's life. I NEEDED her, I needed someone for ME, someone whose shoulder I could lay MY head on. I needed my "second" mom.

And I felt she let me down big...

Now, I realize I let her down big too. I should have gone to her, I should have told her what was in my heart, done whatever necessary to preserve our relationship. Instead, I let time slip by, and let the pain and anger harden my heart...

Aunt Jo and I have since reconciled, to a degree. We speak now. We hug. I kiss her soft little wrinkled cheek. We laugh, and talk. But I only see her once a year, and that ache, that need for her in my life, that has never gone away....

I think she is comfortable with the way things are. I don't get a feeling of "unfinished-ness" when I'm with her...

So, I make do with my happy little memories, and my "frozen moments", and I let it be...

3 comments:

Avitable said...

Snuff? Really? Ew.

baseballmom said...

Hate family conflict...it sucks the life right out of you.

Dory said...

This was tender and beautiful.