Reunion – Epilogue: Promises were made

Six weeks – and seven posts – after the family reunion, I’ve had time to reflect on what happened that weekend.

BJ:  He’s a 27-year-old working man, taking on the responsibility of a family while still having a lot of “boy” in him.  Raised by a couple of complete nutters – with some crazy siblings for added fun.  He also is pretty heavily medicated for ADHD.  Not always the brightest bulb, but he can work a miracle “cypherin'” the amount of wood planks required to repair a deck.  Last weekend, he took third place at the county fair with his demolition derby car, and is piecing it back together to enter another contest in a few weeks.

He’s done the best he could with what he’s got.

DQ:  Manipulative?  Certainly.  She’s raised it to an art form, always being able to find the angle that maximizes personal gain.  Bad at financial math?  Life-long history of spending money she doesn’t have.  Poor choices of partners?  At least the first few…  Does she take care of Mom?  Yes.  Absolutely.  Perhaps not the way i would want to be cared for, but Mom prefers this to other options.  She may have limitations when it comes to making good decisions in everyday life, but when the shit hits the fan, she can get the job done with ruthless efficiency.  When Dad was dying, she was my first call for help with the ugly shit.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

TK:  Coming from a wealthy family, she had every opportunity to excel – and she has.  Retired from the world of professional golf, she is now gainfully employed within the same community, and works her ass off at her job.  She plays just as hard, often as captain on her boat — generously taking family and friends on deep-sea fishing, snorkeling and diving excursions.  Her demon was falling madly in love with my sister - and it’s been one of the hardest challenges in her life.  Having no experience with mental illness, she’s had to do some reading to compliment her ‘on the job training’.  Has her own therapist now, too.  But she’s willing to try to stay in for the long-haul, and…

She’s doing the best she could with what she’s got.

Hurricane T:  Bipolar disorder, to a degree that would hospitalize many, she is a tenured professor at a large university.  She’s invested well, and worked the real estate market to great advantage – even earning a Real Estate license just to make sure she understood the innerds of the business.  When her body chemistry goes out of whack, she’s dragged the family through some bizarre territory – from cults to gut-wrenching emotional drama.  This has fueled a gigantic rift within the family, as she called “bullshit” on Mom’s living arrangements early and often… and loudly.  She’s had bad luck with partners until recently.  Oh, and she can be funny as hell.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

Mom:  My earliest memories of my Mom involve yelling.  She used to scare the kids in the neighborhood because she was the ‘mean mom’.  If she wrote her life story she said she’d call it “Bitter the Apple“.  But she also tried her damnedest to help us with school projects, volunteered for classroom parties, and hauled our adolescent asses to the skating rink every Friday night.  She has a good heart, and would buy us far too many gifts at Christmas as a way of showing her love – also making up for all of the things she didn’t get as a poor kid.  A classic hoarder from that, too.  She was a ruthless caretaker for Dad, keeping all of his lab work and medical reports in a folder to make sure nothing fell through the cracks.  When he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, the prognosis was horrible – and yet she helped keep him alive for another 3 1/2 years.

She’s done the best she could with what she’s got.

daisyfae:  Lumpy, middle-aged, emotionally hardened woman, trying to make good on a death-bed promise to her father.  “You’re it.  You’re ‘Number One Son’.  You need to look out for them…”  Through that reunion weekend, with a good bit of effort and a well-timed snake attack, the familial rift has been patched – at least for now.  Mom talked to Hurricane T – and reassured her that she is ok with her arrangements, even if the house is never finished.  i came to appreciate who DQ and BJ really are – and realized that i should give a bit more slack.  Mom will always be bitter and broken – and the more her body hurts, the crabbier she’s going to be.  Did daisyfae keep that promise to her father?

She’s done the best she could, with what she’s got…

60 thoughts on “Reunion – Epilogue: Promises were made

  1. Sounds like you have absolutely kept your promise. Sometimes deathbed promises are difficult, if not impossible to keep. We make them to ease the passing of the dying. And then we do the best we can. Sounds like you have done a splendid job.

    Ultimately, if we do the best we can with what we’ve got, we have succeeded. You all have, and I have loved traveling this road with you.

    • i have avoided making a few promises to mom – things like “Dressing the body” after she dies, making sure someone rides along whenever her body is transported, etc. i could make those promises, and comfort her, but i have no intention of doing either.

      can’t really call the past 10 years ‘splendid’, but we have apparently achieved some sort of equilibrium and that’s probably as good as it gets…

  2. A gathering well used. And observations well made.
    While self- analysis is not easy, I think you have nailed your efforts. You have kept your promise and you have done it with humour and grace.

    • Thank you! i still plan to wander off a bit after Mom is gone – with the primary job being done. A bit nervous about taking on my own stuff, so perhaps i’ll just play and speed ball the rest of the way to my own finish line…

    • The blog was started to help me sort this out. There are still many tales from the past that haven’t been written, but i’ve lost the need to write them. “Amen” indeed – at least for the near term….

    • i can see BJ as a Transformer. Hurricane T = Meteor. hmmm… i have a good friend who has sold a few screenplays. Might have to put him on this… Are you listening, Little Zig?

  3. I like your reflection on all of them gets to the same place – as generally it does with most people I find… i.e. we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got… :-)

  4. I’m sorry the reunion series is over. I’ve enjoyed reading about your trip.

    You should write a book; not only because you have great material, but you have a great writing style. This reunion series was like a novella, full of intriguing characters and with an interesting storyline.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Good to see you again – hoping your adventures are going well! i was quite certain people were bored with this run, but it was something i had to write, regardless of the entertainment or enlightenment value. Glad you enjoyed it… And thanks for the kind words about my writing. It usually works best when i’m not trying to write, and this series wasn’t about that…

  5. I’ll just say, with all the stalking I do and not reply posting..every now and then, I have to tell you..I love reading what you write..I can’t believe I’ve been hanging out stalking you since 2008 at least..seems like last week that I found your blog.
    I came to the realization that I also do the best I can with what I’ve got. I could easily become Hurricane T if I didn’t try so hard to stay out of it but everyday living isn’t quite as wild as you but still a bit on the silly side.

    • You have been with me a long time, haven’t you? Glad you’re here!

      After the NASA astronaut lost her shit and drove cross country to kidnap another woman, a close friend of mine made the following observation: “We’re all one chocolate bar away from a diapered road trip.” i believe it to be true — each of us has potential to completely come unglued. The effort to stay glued is what it’s about… even if we do lose it from time to time.

  6. Daisyfae: Mature, beautiful, emotionally competent woman, trying to find the balance between the promises she made and the reality she lives in. And doing a hell of a job at it, with the resources she developed.

    Just my take.

    • Would love to argue with you, hot stuff, but afraid you are absolutely correct. But find me a truly sane person – just one. And then give me a couple hours with him or her… We’re all cracked, baby. Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

    • Hi, G.B. And thanks for stopping by…. can’t say we’re a big happy family. It’s been a rather tortuous process to get here – like many families, i suppose. But i’ve at least reached a state of acceptance, which is far better than the gut-wrenching, sleep-interrupting turmoil that i’ve been carrying for over a decade…

  7. ‘She’s done the best she could, with what she’s got…’
    That would be a phrase I would be proud to hear. And I so love that you are able to say it about yourself as welll.
    You rock.

  8. “The earliest memories of my mom involve yelling…” now that’s funny… sorta, unless of course you’re the kid, i was told i was yelling to much at one point and nipped that shit in the bud, now i only yell when i absolutely have to get the boyos attention, parentally speaking of course, and from a world class slacker and underachiever like myself i’d say you did a helluva lot better than you’re giving yourself credit for, so fucking give yourself some credit, daddy would be proud.

    • i had moments of non-linearity as a mom. tried to keep the yelling to a minimum, but the little fuckers make it damn near impossible sometimes. i think dad would understand. before he got sick, he was the calming glue that kept us from killing each other… he knows this drill.

  9. “She’s done the best she could with what she’s got”
    Considering what you got? You done real good Dais!
    But in the end, that’s really all any of can say for certain; we’re all doing the best we can.
    There will always be tears, hurt and yes even blood spilled …. but we still keep plugging away and try to make things just a wee nicer, a tad easier …
    We ARE all cracked. Broken.
    Some just more than others.

    Be kind to yourself Dais …. you deserve some bliss in your world!

  10. Love all of these stories and am glad that you were treated well in my neck of the woods. Family shit is hard–I have an older sister who is an absolute bitch and I’ve just decided not to be around her any more than the bare minimum. It’s not worth the hassle.

    • i believe that if i moved to TN my blood pressure would improve and anxiety would drop dramatically… once i got used to it. LOVED the people and the turf. maybe not quite as fond of the critters…

      family shit is incredibly hard. that’s really what drove me to blog. i had to work through it, and find limited connectivity with therapists. i am still pretty sure we will never be a close family – and once mom is gone, i’ll be nice, but maintain a bubble of safety around myself. booting the folks who make life hell – even family – is a good call.

  11. Followed this story in real time and via the multi part re-cap already “knowing”, of course, much of the back story revealed over the past few years. Interesting how we never really know what we think we know, eh? I try, in my life, to be not be so “closed” and make a conscious effort to keep my paradigms open to change. It is tough though. Letting go and all.

    Anyways, I think you’ve done a pretty good job of it and your pop is proud of you. Not that there was ever any doubt of that.

    PS: Scrolling down through the comments, I find it interesting that there is a fluidity to your readers/commenters. Old ones drop away and are replaced by new ones. I’d guess this is largely a reflection of you and your m.o.

    Thanks for the insights and letting us get to know your clan! Be well daisyfae.

    • it was important to call myself out for being ‘closed’. going back and reading so many of my earlier posts when i pulled together this post? i sound like such an arrogant, judgmental cow! it’s been a journey, that’s for damn sure… will try to learn a lesson from that as i roll ahead.

      the fluidity of the commenting readership over the years has been fascinating. honestly, the connections i’ve made with a few of the folks through this blog have been powerful, and one of the reasons i’m not entirely sure i’m walking away is that i genuinely like a lot of you guys! so i’m still on the fence… in the meantime? nothing undone. no regrets. onward…

  12. I read somewhere once that we all think we’re the ‘normal’ one in our respective family. It sounds like you’re the real deal. although I agree, given the right circumstances, we are only one chocolate bar away….

    • my kids were always amused by the fact that in my ex-husbands family, i was the eccentric, free-spirited hippie-woman, yet in my clan, i was the ‘functional, go-to guy’ for any crisis. i described that as “relativity”… not much really normal about me, though… whatever that is…

        • yes! to my theater friends? i’m a right-winger! amongst the bible thumpin’ brigade? hippie radical. have to have a frame of reference for these things!

  13. Despite tequila and bar fights, you are such a good person :-) You demonstrate an incredible emotional maturity at being able to come to resolution like this. I think your dad would be really proud.

    • Thank you, Tammy. Meeting them where they are has been a challenge – but i’m almost there, i think. There is absolutely nothing i (or anyone) can do to change the behaviour of other adults – even family. i think that’s the key to letting go…

  14. Another lurker who sporadically comments. Have really enjoyed your blog and hope you post something every now & then (hopefully more often than that freaking Kyknoord).

    Vaya con Dios!

    • thanks, cew! glad you stopped by… agree that the world could use a bit more of kyknoord. i’m going to give it a bit more and see if anything starts to gel… but right now? really busy with summer…

  15. Isn’t it the best we can all do? With what we’ve got? If I remembered that little snippet of advice on a daily basis, I’d probably be less hard on myself and far better off with the internal assessment of my life. Good on ya, Daisyfae for taking the #1 son mantel. It’s a touch job, and you’re doing it.

  16. Time has stood still for me it would seem during moments of mental incarceration. It is quite comforting to recognise the good memories that fall out of heads during bad times. Corridors can be lonely places indeed when we often wander alone in our thoughts. How very pleasant to re-open a door and see the familiar words of an old friend. Especially when the friend is Daisyfae.

    • So very good to see you, Chef! Have been munching over the idea of abandoning this blog and starting fresh. Then again, i’m pretty lazy and my graphic design skills are fer shite… i might stick around a bit. If for no other reason to see how long it takes for you to call me ‘hen’ and make me giggle like a tipsy schoolgirl!

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