Thank you for your kind comments and emails regarding that last post. I was almost afraid to post it, and considered taking it down. It's hard to see some of those words in print, out there for the world to see, especially since a lot of people I know in real life know who I am and how to find this blog. I'm out of blogging closet, so to speak, so all sorts of people might read that... from my hometown and elsewhere. I just felt it was time for me to get it out there. And I am glad I did it, for lots of reasons I won't go into here.
I started a new temp job last week. It should only last about a month, but the people are nice and the money is good. Everytime humanity seems to let me down, I'm given several new reasons to believe in us again. Sometimes I think God is deliberately slamming doors in my face to shock me into noticing the many wide-open windows in my life, and the beautiful vistas beyond them.
I spoke last night with a long-lost aunt and uncle. We used to visit once a year when I was small, but of course the older us kids got, the less frequent the visits became. By the time I was in college, we were practically strangers, with nothing but children's memories between us.
This aunt has always seemed to take a shine to me, however. She's my dad's kid sister, and my dad and his three siblings are very, very close, so I imagine I mean something to her in a special way. Being my Dad's only child seems to have endeared me to my 2 aunts and uncle, and I've always been glad of that, even if their spouses couldn't contain their judgementalism.
But we're all a lot older now, and we've all mellowed. I find my more difficult relatives much more palatable in their advancing age, and I'm more tolerant of our differences, and far more appreciative of their kindness. I love them dearly... odd, since I feel virtually the opposite way about most of my Mother's family. Which makes me very sad sometimes.
I got an update on my "Baby cousins'" lives. I was born several years before Lil' Auntie's oldest kid, so I always called her brood "my baby cousins". Of course they are all in their 20's and 30's now. The youngest is about 19, the only one not married, thank God. She is attending Bob Jones University, and just starting to date, in the chaste way that this particular brand of Christians do. She's a stunningly beautiful blonde, and very bright, and I can't imagine a single one of those close-minded pinheads at BJU will be anywhere near worthy of her... but I'm glad she's having fun, in her way.
The next youngest is a 6-foot-5-inches 26 year old redhead, with freckles, blue eyes and a smile like the sun rising over Lake Pend Oreille. When he was a baby I thought he was the most beautiful kid I'd ever seen. When I was about eleven and he was about one, I dropped him on his head. I was mortified. I always wondered if I wasn't to blame for his LOUDNESS and general obnoxious behavior as a child, not to mention his struggles in school. Well, that wild brat grew up to be a the most sweet, loving man, and he captured my heart all over again when we were in college. He married himself a gal as loving as he is, and they now have two babies. As adults, we have enjoyed each other's company far more than I'd imagined we might. They're probably the least uptight of my generation in the family. Frankly, I miss them, and wish we had some excuse to see each other. But I don't know about visiting. I'd be very nervous on their turf. I might put some feelers out, I don't know.
Their older sister is probably about 28. I saw her with her husband and four kids at my paternal grandmother's funeral in 2005. Another freakishly gorgeous blonde woman, with a TOTAL HOTTIE for a hubby. "If my husband were that good looking," I told her over sandwiches, "I'd have had four kids too!" Her brood is as achingly gorgeous as her little brother was, all blonde and redheaded and peachy cheeks. They're loud and rowdy brats like their uncle was too. If I could have just hit the mute button, however, I could have watched them all day.
It breaks my heart that Mrs. Hottie and I are not close. I always felt that we were deliberately kept apart as teens, because I was such a bad kid - hangin' with rough characters, drinkin' sexin', all that shit. Well, that little girl cousin of mine had been one of my closest kin growing up, and I had always assumed we'd stay that way. But she made it very clear to me (at her own wedding, would you believe) that our special friendship ended long ago. Now I'm just someone she's related to that she feels she has nothing in common with. She's kidding herself. She's more like me than anyone wants to admit. And she should be proud of it. Because the truth is, I'm more like her than she knows. Now wouldn't that shock the family.
The oldest kid is about 30, 31. He's brilliant, always was. I was devastated when he didn't attend Harvard or Yale or Wheaton or some decent school where those brains could have been put to work saving humanity. But he's happy. He likes his life. He married an adorable girl whose personality is as quirky as his, and they are waiting to have kids, I'm not sure what for, but I'm impressed with them for not mindlessly doing what everybody else does. Grandma and I used to talk about this boy a lot, and our hopes for him, how much we admired him. I am proud of him, for what he is. Although at 5 foot nine and easily 200 pounds of muscle, I can't call him a baby anything anymore.
The whole reason my aunt called me has to do with the wedding.
The one personal thing I've decided to do with this wedding - that is, the one thing I'm not paying someone else to do - is display family photographs, specifically wedding pictures. I'm collecting framed wedding pictures of my parents and grandparents, G's parents and grandparents, and am asking our Bridesmaids and Groomsmen, all of whom are married, to bring their framed wedding photos as well. I want to be surrounded by examples of happy, healthy marriages on my wedding day, and I want everyone who comes to the wedding to see them.
Apparently my parents are unable to locate the photo of my paternal grandparents, so my Dad asked his little sister if she might have one she could loan me. She's going to make a copy of the one she has and send it to me. In a surge of familial longing, I invited her to also send along a copy of her wedding picture, and promised to display it if she did. She is four foot eleven. Uncle is six foot six. They were married in the early 70's. It's one fab photo, let me tell ya.
I was horribly embarrassed that my Dad passed the buck like this, especially since I'm not inviting any of my family members. Most of them don't even know I'm getting married again. That's just how NOT close my family really is - we are completely UN-involved in each others' lives. Granted, with my Dad's family, they are all very low wage earners, and couldn't afford the plane flight even if they wanted to come, so technically I'm off the hook... but I felt bad that Lil' Auntie had to find out this way. I stammered a bit on how I was really only having this wedding for G's sake, since he's his parents' only son, and he wanted the party, yada yada yada. Auntie and Uncle didn't sound the least bit angry or disappointed or slighted in any way, just genuinely glad to chat with me. I love them for that all the more. Again - the opposite of my Mother's family.
For all my cynicism, my lingering resentment, in spite of our mutual scorn of each other's lifestyles and values, our ability to see through our differences and be truly loving toward each other fills me up in ways I can't describe. There's no food like the love and support of family when you most need them. There's no safer haven than Grandma's kitchen, and though my grandmothers are gone, I can still sit at that table anytime I want. I was there last night, on the phone with Lil' Auntie, listening to her and Uncle tell me how they'd been praying for me. "It's been working," I said.
When I got off the phone, I could see the photo in my mind that they would be sending me. Grandma and Grandpa were little people, he was five foot six, and she was about five-one. They were poor, and rather country, so no fancy wedding finery for them. Grandma wore a dark red velvet dress, "more of a burgundy color," she once said, with that faraway look in her eyes, with that sparkle she'd get when she was remembering her mischievous youth. Grandpa wore a white shirt and a tie, and a nice jacket and pants. He is not smiling, but he wasn't a big smiler. Grandma has a quiet, small smile, like the Mona Lisa, like she's hiding something, and she thinks it's funny.
The picture is 5x7 size, in surprisingly good resolution and quality for the late 1930's. I will buy a classy, beautiful frame for it, and when G and I buy our first home, I'll hang it in the living room where our children will play.
And we'll leave the past in the past, and start our new lives in the wonderful world we'll make for ourselves.