Compare and Contrast

That’s what we’re told to do in the middle school years when writing an essay. Compare this to that. Show how they are the same. Show how they are different.

A Tale of Two Christmases by daisyfae

For the Trailer Park Christmas, i was invited to the home of my brother, T, and his wife, K, on December 26th. Conveniently, i also scammed an invitation to drop by a family party with old friends later that evening – a mere five miles from my brother’s home. KMD and her brother, B, were friends of mine back in the teenaged years – and we’ve remained close over the past three decades. KMD hosted an extended family party, which i’ve crashed before – mostly when B has been in town for the holidays.

The Trailer Park event was fairly low-key. Starting around 2:00 pm, i was the last to arrive – slip-sliding to the door at 2:30*. Rather than prepare a formal meal, T and K opted for a spread of fruits, veggies, dips, breads and snacks – suitable for grazing. KMD, having prepared a more traditional family meal for Christmas day, had arranged a similar spread that evening. Within moments of my arrival, she let me know “I’m off duty tonight. Help yourself to whatever you’d like. Questions? Ask the under-aged staff**”.

Attending the Trailer Park fest was my mom, my oldest sister, S, her husband, J. DQ, and her two daughters, DQ, Jr (15 year-old) and DQ, III (3 year-old) were there, along with T, K, and their 10 year-old son, Little T. BJ, DQ’s husband, was working on renovations to Mom’s house. My daughter had to work, and The Boy was staying up north with his Dad. A fairly small gathering.

At the KMD gathering? Almost twenty-five people. Perhaps 8-10 young ‘uns (hard to count, because they were moving targets), another dozen ‘cousins’ and spouses (age range 30’s-50’s), and KMDs divorced Mom and Dad – along with Dad’s second wife. The beauty of this is that both parents can all be in the same household, seemingly without much discomfort.

With the Trailer Park Gang, there really aren’t many traditions observed, unless you count the ritualistic “Bashing of the Exes”. My brother didn’t waste much time poking sticks at his second wife and bemoaning the status of their three sons – and their varying drug addictions.

We also got an update on his second oldest daughter – who is only going to have to serve about five months for an assault conviction, stemming from a shoplifting incident in October. She’s apparently skating on the charges that were brought for her meth lab operation in her children’s bedroom, discovered when she was investigated for another series of thefts…

Over at KMD’s, the tradition is poker. This goes back to Grandma B, who loved to play cards with her children and grandchildren. It was clear they all missed Grandma B, who died in her 90’s just over a year ago, but it didn’t take long before the poker game got going in full swing.

An 8-seat “Dealer’s Choice” event, the cousins save up all manner of pocket change for the entire year in preparation to play. Empty seats are coveted early in the evening. Happy banter, mostly good-natured tweaking, and some cut-throat gamesmanship characterized the game early. Spectacular displays of creative obscenity came into play later.

Once the game got started, i wandered off to chat with KMD. Spent some time talking with the wife of one of the cousins, and she shared some of her “divorce family mash up” issues. Also some time with KMD’s mother – a sweet woman, who may be slightly more functional than my mother, but perhaps just as crazy.

Conversation with my Mom during the Trailer Park party centered on how Christmas used to be better, how the family has fallen apart, and her current living arrangements***.  Both women aren’t particularly happy with life, but Mom’s got her on ‘bitter’…

Happy children playing with new toys in both households! DQ, Jr. was sweet about all of the gifts she received. DQ, III was a happy, bouncy critter – mostly content to play with boxes and wrapping paper. Little T excitedly shared his new science kits with me, and eventually curled up in a corner with a set of books.

At the KMD place? Joyful children, dancing with the new Wii game, using Uncle B’s new iPad, and scurrying off into corners with this toy or that one. Although it wasn’t a textbook Norman Rockwell event – i was thrilled to see one cousin ask his 10-year old son “hey, where’s my vodka tonic?” The young man expertly mixed up a fresh drink, and delivered it to the poker table, receiving a hug and a smile for his efforts.

Some similarities, some differences. The biggest difference is seeing the awkwardness in my own clan, and the over-arching tendency to constantly pick old family scabs and gnaw on ancient bones. Knowing KMD’s family for so many years, i am quite aware that there is a fair ration of dysfunction there – no one tries to hide it. But the love, comfort, and genuine joy at being together, is tangible.

Unlike my clan, KMD’s people don’t seem revel in the old trash.… Maybe that’s something i can work on with my folks for the coming year… Or i can continue to push for formal adoption.

info on the Dysfunctional Family Circus found here.

* Perhaps due to the gentle hangover i carried from the day before – watching movies in footie pajamas, while doing my best to rotate the stock in my liquor cabinet with some friends…

** That would be her two delightful children, who worked their magic helping out at my garage sale a few years back.

*** After DQ’s clan, and my sister S left, Mom went on to complain about how she has to hide food because it all gets eaten if she leaves it out. She complained about a few other things, too. We noted that she is in no imminent danger of wasting away, and suggested perhaps her own mini-fridge – with a lock – until her new place is finished. She THEN launched into a rant about how we shouldn’t judge DQ’s family – that caring for her has been a hardship on their family. i just shrugged and said “OK…”

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Christmas in my rear view mirror

At 5 years old… Jumping up and down on my oldest sisters bed on Christmas morning, with my sister, T.  “Wake up!  Santa came!”  The orchestrated chaos of Mom’s Christmas morning.  Had to have breakfast before gifts were opened – usually some nutritious PopTarts – but we were allowed to dig into the stockings.  Mom liked to drag things out – only one gift opened at a time to “make Christmas last”. 

At 10 years old… The year i ruined my own Christmas by peeking at every gift with my name on it under the tree.  i was good with the letter opener, and carefully slit the tape to reveal what was inside.  Lesson learned:  Don’t fuck with anticipation.

At 15 years old…  After a tumultuous year of battles with my sister, T, we reconcile.  She was suffering quietly through fights with her girlfriend – she wasn’t ‘out’ to anyone then.  After my best friend, J, had come out to me earlier that year, he suggested i just go ahead, tell my sister i knew she was a lesbian, and offer support.  It worked.  My gift to her that year was a collection of  ‘gay lit’ books – “The Front Runner” and “Rubyfruit Jungle”, suggested by J.

At 20 years old… My first Christmas away from my family.  i had been living with EJ for a year, and he was going to Florida to spend the holiday with his parents.  i go with him.  Calling home on Christmas day is weird.  A little bittersweet – a sense of independence as i start something new, and a sense of loss as i leave something behind.  And the weirdest thing of all:  Having a family meal with people who were quiet.  i could hear myself chew! 

At 25 years old…  A baby? The girl at about 18 months old.  Our first house.  Having a baby gave us an excuse not to travel, so we don’t have to go to Florida, but we are required to bring the toddler to The Park.  Overloaded toddler by 5:00 pm, as we retreat homeward as soon as we can possibly escape.

At 30 years old… The peak years for me “doing” Christmas.  Love buying gifts and wrapping them beautifully.  Baking with the kids.  Driving through the neighborhoods looking at holiday lights.  Hitting the road for “warm” Christmases in Florida every other year.  Our own family holiday traditions emerging – saying “It’s the most beautiful Christmas tree ever” as soon as the tree is done – which has to be said every year.  Still the ‘Santa’ years… One kid serving as “elf” to distribute presents.  Learning that dogs can smell wrapped chocolates under a tree, and will eat an entire pound box.  And then paint the household a horrid shade of brown…

At 35 years old… Mellower.  Santa puts scratch off lottery tickets in stockings, and the emphasis is now hanging out, watching movies, and eating junk food until we achieve sugar comas.  Travel every other year to visit grandparents – despite the fact that no one really wants to do it, we made the best of it… sometimes renting a beach house for a few days en route. 

At 40 years old… Awkward.  My husband and i are effectively separated and living in two different homes, but we converge on the vacation place up north for Christmas.  The kids are REALLY over the hype.  We spend our time watching satellite tv movies.  Playing with dogs.  Staring at the frozen lake.  Drinking.  A lot.  The Trailer Park Christmas has gotten ugly, with disagreements percolating in many corners.  i develop the ‘avoid and minimize’ strategy.  Mom grumbles that the family has fallen apart and that Christmas just isn’t the same any more.

Today… It’s noon.  i’m still in my pajamas.  The Girl is sleeping downstairs because she works retail now, and had to work late last night.  The Boy is visiting his dad up north, because Dad needs company after losing both his live-in girlfriend and his father within the past month.  Drank a half pot of coffee – with a little Kahlua in deference to the holiday.  Read the newspaper.  Basically, it’s kinda like any other Saturday,  only everything’s closed.   We’ll get together and hang out when The Boy drops by early next week.

Life is good.  Merry Christmas!

taken a couple of weeks ago when The Boy was home for his birthday…

From left field…

Things are slow at work this time of year, which is why i choose not to burn my vacation time.  Always best to use your discretionary leave when things are busy*.  i’m putting in a solid 5-6 hours a day.  It’s quiet.  i read online newspapers and catch up on e-mail.  People bring in cookies.  i get paid.  Life is good.
 
Today on my lunch hours hour, i was getting a manicure at Big Gay Chuck’s Big Gay Hair Salon, where Tonya, my tattooed, biker nail tech, does her business.  The salon was hopping with women getting gussied up for the holidays.  Chuck was playing a holiday music mix, and none other than James Brown was gettin’ his holiday mojo on when i came in for my appointment.
 
Tonya and i chatted a bit, and then she was exchanging holiday “I’ve still gotta’s” with one of the other clients.  Talking about a roomful of presents to wrap, stocking stuffers yet to be purchased, and meals to be planned and prepared… No longer my world, so i sort of zoned out…
 
And then i heard this…


 
Go ahead and hit the play button – you’ll likely have to go to YouTube to see it…  i’ll wait…
 
i am, at my foundation, a hillbilly.   Although i’ve had some musical training, and have exposed myself** to the fine arts on numerous occasions, i’m generally not a huge fan of classical music.  i can listen to it, appreciate it – certainly a live performance can inspire me.  But when it comes to classical music appreciation, i’m a noob…
 
But there is this piece – the love theme from Cinema Paradiso.  My father’s favorite film – we watched it together, and cried together.  It reminded him of his family.  Of the village in Sicily where his parents were born.  The place he was never able to visit.  
 
When he died in 2002, i had to have it played for his visitation.  My daughter taught me about Limewire, and i stayed up all night downloading the music i needed.
 
And i stumbled upon this version.  Itzhak Perlman makes that fiddle wail in agony. This piece overwhelms me.  It never fails to make me weep…
 
Tonya started laughing when she noticed the chicken skin on my arms as she buffed my nails.  Asked me if i was cold.  As the song finished, she looked up and saw me crying…
 
“What’s the matter, hon?”
 
“Nothing.  i still miss my Dad… and sometimes it just sneaks up on me.”

By the time i got around to planning our trip to Sicily?  He was too sick to go…

~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

* Yet another reason i am astonished that my organization continues to have me serve as a mentor for the young scientists and engineers.  Do they really want me to train the next generation?
 
** No.  Not at the philharmonic.  But i have gotten partially nekkid on stage in the name of the arts…

Decorating on a budget

While the blogosphere is alight with various rants about:

a) Loving Christmas

b) Hating Christmas

c) Being ambivalent about Christmas

d) Being Jewish during Christmas

e) yada, yada, yada Christmas

i find myself adrift, with the relentless annual cacophony blasting my brain from every angle.  But there was a moment last week that made me giggle… 

Leaving a meeting and heading to the back stairwell to return to my office, i spotted this li’l fella by the industrial communal shredding machine, affectionately referred to as “The Wood Chipper”*.

Sometimes the nerds i work with surprise me… and on occasion?  Delight me…

* Think of that almost final scene in “Fargo”…  this shredder will take your arm off if you get distracted…

Why Yes, Virginia…

After two weeks of scraping and poking and prodding, we got the word on Mom’s lung nugget – the biopsy was negative.  The docs also took some scrapings and slices from her throat, and the frozen sections from those were also negative!

Delightfully surprised – especially since the radiologist who was doing the poking into the lung kept referring to it as a ‘cancer’.   It’s apparently some form of fibrosis.  Not life threatening, nor is it even causing much of a problem with her lung capacity, since it’s pretty small. 

The areas in her throat that were showing metabolic activity on the PET scan might be a result of gastric reflux.  No worries there…

Throughout the entire process, Mom has been upbeat, and has really seemed to enjoy the attention.  She was a little puckered up going into the lung biopsy, and was worried that the doc might decide to take out her tonsils should there have been a positive result on the initial throat biopsies… 

Oh, and after every procedure or consultation?  She’s always felt well enough to stop for a meal on the way home…  As i’ve said before, my clan does not waste away.

For a variety of reasons, i’ve been unable to be there for most of the procedures.  One reason?  i haven’t been needed.  During this entire process – from the first sign of a pulmonary loogie, through the last visit with the pulmonologist – my niece, DQ, has been on the job. 

When Dad was tumbling through his medical gauntlet, i was point man.  DQ was an able and high-functioning guard.  What this false alarm has revealed that Mom’s gauntlet will be played a different line up.   DQ is out front, and i will do my best to support her…

She’s earning her pay this month.  And i haven’t been able to thank her enough for doing it…

That’s not to say there haven’t been a few giggles along the way.  When i told my brother and his wife the good news?  Their response was exactly the same as my sister, T, and her partner down in Florida.  “Has anybody told BJ?  Don’t want him to stop working on the renovations to the house…”

photo found here… although not particularly relevant, it always makes me laugh.

Birthday Bashing

The memorial service for my ex-father-in-law went well yesterday, and apparently poor little A* wasn’t traumatized because it occurred on his 22nd birthday. This, of course, means today is The Boy’s 22nd birthday.

He stayed over at his Dad’s place last night. In general, when the kids are hanging out with their Dad, i pretty much leave them alone. But since it was his birthday, i sent him a text this morning…

daisyfae:  Happy Birthday!

The Boy:  what’s so happy about it? you woke me up, bitch!

The Boy:  just playing. thanks.

daisyfae:  Fine. No “Hookers and Blow” Gift Card for you.

The Boy:  But Mom, Aunt J got A hookers, blow, AND a moon bounce for HIS birthday!

daisyfae:  Probably had a pony too. Or was that for the hookers?

The Boy:  Is a pony the same as a donkey? Because if so…

daisyfae:  No. Donkeys can’t get you pregnant. Don’t ask how i know that…

The Boy:  Ewww…

picture found here

* It causes me minor pain to let you know that A turns out not to be such a bad kid.  The Girl reports that he’s becoming a decent human being, despite his entitled upbringing.  He acknowledged drinking cheap wine when he did his semester abroad, because he’d rather spend money doing things than buying things…  Oh, and he was apparently wearing a t-shirt for one of my favorite bands.  i guess i’ll have to transfer my disgust to his older sister… who apparently remains a selfish, pretentious and entitled cow…

Ripples of Divorce – Part 2

It was almost three years ago when my former mother-in-law died.  i awkwardly asked my ex-husband about possibly stopping by to pay my respects, but primarily due to the psychotic jealousy of his live-in girlfriend, he suggested it would be best if i didn’t.  So i didn’t.

Friday night, my ex-father-in-law died.  i got a call from The Girl late in the morning, and she was leaving work to go be with her Dad, EJ, who’d just called in a state of serious freak-out.  About a month ago, my ex-husband put a boot in the ass of the barking bitch he had been living with for about four years, so he was dealing with a 92-year-old man having a massive stroke all by himself.

The Boy packed up and left work around the same time, and both of the kids made the three-hour trek in time to provide back-up support to their dad.  Around the same time they arrived, EJ’s yuppie lawyer sister, J,  had arrived.  This took some of the pressure off, as it was clear they’d be facing the tough ‘end game’ decision processes soon.

Grandpa died later that evening, after the arrival of EJs other sister, S.  Discussions began regarding memorial service and funeral arrangements.  With a crew of grandchildren who would be making the trek for the service, logistics were going to be challenging.

Turns out, The Boy was born one day after J delivered her son, A.  Furthermore, it turns out that their birthdays are coming up next week.  With the travel constraints, Monday was the optimal day to have the services.   Apparently, it would not do to have Grandpa’s memorial service on A’s birthday.

J, the yuppie sister and mother of A, began lobbying hard to move the memorial service to Tuesday, as it would be absolutely terrible for A to have to associate he death of his grandfather with his 22nd birthday.  Either J had completely forgotten that The Boy’s birthday is Tuesday, or she’s just a selfish cow and didn’t give a shit.

When EJ asked The Boy if he would have a problem with it?  He simply said “It’s just another day, and it’s not like I’m twelve years old.  You’d think A could ‘man up’, but I guess not…”

In the end, due to the availability of a key grandson-in-law (ie: pall bearer), it will be Monday.  And poor little A will have to suck it the fuck up…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

…and for what it’s worth, i’m not going this time, either.  Even though the barking bitch is gone, it would still add another bit of stress to things for my ex-husband.  My kids are there, they have his back, and i’ve got theirs by remote.  there really isn’t anything i can do to make anything any better…

 

Tending the Demon Garden

As a recognized serial plant murderer, i’m really not sure why i became determined to re-bloom the lovely poinsettia that survived Christmas 2009.  It was still green and pretty well into the summer of 2010.  Perhaps it was because i’ve been bored.  Maybe because it was a really pretty plant.  Or maybe because i’ve recently waged intra-cranial war with my inability to commit to much of anything these days…
 
Somewhere in late summer the thought nugget took hold.  i looked up ‘Re-blooming Your Poinsettia” on the internet when i probably should have been working.  i kept doing more research.  Within the realm of the plausible, no doubt.  Rather than be discouraged by a commitment to a living object, i tackled this with more enthusiasm than anyone who knows me* could have imagined.
 
What does it take?  Keeping your plant in complete darkness for 14 hours every day for about ten weeks.  Knowing that if i put it downstairs in the storage room, i’d forget about it and kill it in short order.  Coming up with a way to do it that fit my personal schedule was the challenge. 
 
With a little testing**, i determined that my walk in closet was suitable for the 14 hours of darkness.  Selecting a schedule that worked with my daily routine, i vowed to put the plant into darkness every day at 5:00 pm, to be retrieved at 7:00 am.
 
Seemed pretty brilliant.  Until i found myself effectively locked out of my own closet every evening.  Planning ahead for all of my clothing needs, i adapted to the new paradigm, keeping my jammies on a hook in the bathroom, and making sure i had a few odds and ends of clothing scattered around the bedroom just in case.   i even had to make sure that my laundry was put away by 5:00 pm on Sunday evening!

The poinsettia showed promise, shedding all of the old leaves while growing perky new foliage.  Hey, this isn’t so hard!  Hope!
 
Then there were the road trips.  With The Girl still living downstairs, i left her detailed instructions and sent appropriately timed text messages to assure that the plant was delivered and retrieved from darkness at the appointed hours.  She accused me of caring more about the plant than about her or the dog.
 
Ahhh… THAT’S commitment, right?


 
When the fucking plant failed to cooperate, i became even more zealous.  Looking closely every morning for any sign of flower buds, double checking the degree of darkness in the closet – perhaps light was sneaking in somewhere?  Even if the plant didn’t bloom in time for the holiday, by god, the thing was going to bloom again!  i had given up my closet for weeks!  Bloom, motherfucker!  BLOOM!
 
It’s not that i have a problem with commitment, god damn it – i have a problem with men.  This was a vital experiment, and a soul-testing measure of who i am as a person!  No turning back!  This was a necessary step in taking on my demons…
 
So when i was at the store a couple of weeks ago, i saw a gorgeous white poinsettia – one of the cheesy ones that had been decorated with some glitter on the leaves, and a nice shiny green foil wrapper covering the cheap plastic pot.  Ooooh!  Sparkles! 

$12.99 later?  i had a lovely poinsettia on my coffee table.  Got my fucking closet back, too…
 
 
* i kill plants.  Not on purpose, but if you hang around me long enough, it starts to seem that way….
 
** standing in the closet with the light off and the door shut in a variety of external lighting conditions convinced me that it would work as a darkroom.  Coincidently, i also learned why the cat goes pretty batshit when he accidentally gets trapped in the same closet…

A League of Our Own

E-mail thread from the Nerd Herd this afternoon, as we were all clearly working very hard.

RN:  I’m starting a new fantasy physics league.  First we draft our teams and the season runs from 1 January to 30 December 2011.  10 Physicists per team.  Draft Order is me, RJak, Ninjaneer, daisyfae and M**2.  And don’t forget to name your team. Mine is “The Downtown Differentials”.

SCORING:

Second author paper – 1 point
First author paper – 2 points
Magazine article – 3 points
Mention on CNN – 4 points
Appearance on Leno – 5 points
Appearance on Star Trek – 6 points
TV show – 8 points
Presentation using See-and-say – 20 points
Presentation with naked wife on screen saver* – 30 points

Ok here we go – I’ll take Stevie Hawking!

daisyfae:  You need to add a category for “Getting Front Page Coverage in Popular Press”
     – Time, Newsweek:  15 points
     – Wall Street Journal: 10 points
     – New York Times / Washington Post: 8 points
     – Chicago Trib, LA Times, major newspaper:  5 points
     – Weekly Reader: 3 points
     – Trailer Park Digest: 1 point

RJak:  I choose Rick Smalley.  I know he’s dead and all, but does that really matter?  It doesn’t take a genius to get a stripper knocked-up. 

Speaking of which:  “Very minor scandal that I wanted to report on because of the humor value but my editors wouldn’t let me for reasons that are totally valid: Hawking was spotted  going into a strip club in London, and apparently spent several hours with one of the strippers, and supposedly  .  A colleague and I had tracked down the stripper (if I recall correctly, her stage name was “Tiger”) and scheduled an interview. I wanted to find out what a Tiger and Hawking would discuss for so long — g-string theory, perhaps — but my editors pulled the plug. Probably a good thing.” [reference]

daisyfae:  “The Boson Bombers” choose…

That guy who gave the presentation at the Colloquium Series who got so jacked up answering a question that his screen saver came on and the naked boobie picture of his wife on vacation came up in his slide show.  And yeah, I know it’ll be a bitch to get all that printed on his jersey, but I’ll dig up his name. 

By the way… I’m also claiming “The Particle Chargers” for a possible team name.  Haven’t decided which one I’m going to use. 

Ninjaneer:  Anything published in an Astronomy Journal is a league violation and disqualifies the team.

M**2:  My team name is “E-town Entanglements”

RN:  The league office found no good way to do that, we’ll just going to have to test for banned research from this point forward as we don’t want to change all the old records.  We have at least come up with a policy on performance enhancing substances such as Red Bull and donuts.

Ninjaneer:  We should probably institute “Drude Testing”…

 

image sourced here.  Artie, The Strongest Man in the World (from “The Adventures of Pete and Pete”)

* RN and i attended an invited lecture at a large auditorium in our facility.  The speaker was a going full-throttle, answering a question with so much enthusiasm that the screen saver on his laptop computer kicked in, presenting his vacation slide show on a giant screen for all to see.  He was so busy bouncing around the auditorium that he hadn’t noticed – even when the shot of his topless wife walking along a tropical beach flashed across the screen.  When he did notice, he quickly realized that his wife’s funbags had probably been viewed by the hundred or so folks in attendance… and he was suddenly overcome with a bit of travel fatigue, and ended his Q&A session rather abruptly….

Just like the Spanish Inquisition

Reading obituaries, i’ve been vexed by statements such as “…died unexpectedly at the age of 84”.  Can you really die unexpectedly at that age?

Turns out, i now believe you can.

My cousin, S, lives an hour away.  Her husband, R, had been battling some fairly serious heart ailments for the past few years, but was recently diagnosed with cancer and had just begun a regimen of chemotherapy.  Due to his poor health, he had been admitted to a skilled nursing facility to allow 24 hour medical care.

This morning i got an e-mail from S: “R just passed away.”  i had recently offered to do some “hospital duty” – sitting with R so that S could run errands, sleep, or do whatever she needed to do – and she’d said she’d take me up on it.

i gave her a call as soon as i got her e-mail this morning, and was on the road within about 15 minutes. 

Not really knowing what she needed, i figured i’d wing it.  When i arrived?  She asked if i could go to the nursing home, and collect his belongings.  She also wanted some support on the visit to the funeral home later in the afternoon to make arrangements.

S is my closest cousin, although we’ve not really been all that well-connected until recently.  She was always a trail blazer in my mind – going off to university to become a chemist in the 1960’s.  She had a solid career working in steel mills, later transitioning to software and other jobs.  When i was a kid?  She was a bit of a role model.  Single Lady Scientist in the Big City*.

She met R at the steel mill.  Twenty years older than S, they were together for about 25 years, married only for the last ten or so…  No children together, R had four sons with his first wife.  They have always been fairly active – with travel, bicycling, dog walking and family visits – right up until R encountered his latest round of medical fun.

About 18 months ago, S and i took lead in orchestrating a large “cousins reunion” in southern Kentucky.  Logistically it was a success, but i was reminded that it’s not just our branch of Mom’s family tree that has issues.  S is the eldest child of my Aunt Helen – a bitter, black hole of emotional darkness

S is a strong woman.  As a battle percolates amongst her siblings regarding the long-term care arrangements for Aunt Helen – who just suffered a heart attack, and now needs a permanent room in a nursing home – S now buries her husband.  Listening to her today, i was blown away by her composure.  But there were moments of non-linearity which is to be expected…

Sitting in the funeral home, waiting for the funeral director to return from gathering some additional bit of information, S sat in an overstuffed chair in his office, looking a little lost.  She said “I knew it would be soon.  I just didn’t expect it today.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

* When i was 12?  St. Louis was a big city!