Another Christmas in The Park

This year?  The Girl won the “Over-Under” bet. 

It’s become a bit of a tradition that we do a little friendly wagering as we travel south to spend our requisite “holiday time” in The Park.  This year, the wager centered on my ridiculously self-absorbed sister, S:  “How long – from the time she and i are in the room together – until she mentions the need for us to talk more?”  Anything relating to “sisterly talks”, “more time together” or the like..

The Boy picked 20 minutes, with The Girl calling “Over”.  Once i offered a prize to the winner – a Mom “ShutTheFuckUp” (STFU) card* – they reconsidered their positions, taking the competition much more seriously, yet held firm.  His logic?  S would launch into it from the very start, or wait until the late-afternoon “good byes”.  About a 50/50 shot.  But it wasn’t until we were all packing up to go that she descended into a drawn out,  banal monologue about our need to “really talk more this year”…

The visit wasn’t all that bad.  At first.  It was at the home of my brother, T, and his wife, K.  They’d generously offered to host us all on the 26th, to avoid the frenetic Christmas Day trooping from place to place that happens to folks who have many grandparents – not to mention multiple sets of parents – in the same town.   i ate some cookies, and wandered off to play Wii cow racing with my 5 year old nephew, Little T**. 

Other than my recent bout of verbal diarrhea, the drama this year was around my brother and his family.  This was also the topic that set me off during the Thanksgiving event… T and his wife are happy.  They are doing well.  They live within their means.  K is his third wife, and she just happens to be a little younger than his two daughters from his first marriage.  And their son, Little T, is younger than Ts three grandchildren from those first daughters.  Yeah, you kinda need a white board to diagram this, but hang with me, here…  T also has three teenage boys from his second marriage.  That’s six children, for those of you keeping score at home.

Mom, S, and my niece, DQ, like to rant about the fact that T and K rarely come around, call, or join in any drama games participate in family events.  i’ve spent a bit of time with T and K, and it makes sense to me.  They have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps financially – and have been frustrated seeing Mom and S repeatedly underwrite the financial irresponsibility of DQ and her clan…  They have no use for the drama.  Never mind that Mom is a complete buzzkill – has nothing positive or pleasant to say about anyone or anything.  Whenever they do come around? All they hear is “You never come around”.  Doesn’t really make for a good time…  i completely understand why they are a bit scarce…

We haven’t seen T’s three boys for about 2 years.  His second ex-wife became a born-again christian after she remarried, and home-schooled the boys.  Recognizing the threat that our heathen family presented, she wasn’t particularly accommodating about holiday visits.  This year, since the oldest boy has his drivers license, they were able to escape for the afternoon to visit with our family.

Awkwardness for the boys, for sure, but there were moments to chat, catch up, and reconnect a little.  But as they were packing up to leave because the oldest son had to get to work?  Mom started to lecture them.  Informed them that she didn’t even recognize them when she arrived since it had been so long since she’d seen them***.  Told them “you avoid us by choice.  YOUR choice…”.  S couldn’t resist the opportunity to pile on.  Reminded A, the youngest of the three, that she’d seen him at a hair salon a few months ago, and said to him then that he looked just like one of her nephews she hadn’t seen in ages…

i was mortified.  “Happy Fucking Holidays, Boys!  Come back and see us real soon!  We’ll make you squirm and twist…”

Immediately started packing up, giving my kids the signal “we’re outta here before i pop a cork”, and we made our escape – but not before S got in her unnecessarily long-winded “we’re going to spend more time together this year” speech…  After about 10 minutes of that, with my brother echoing like a greek chorus “yes, we’re going to do it”, my sister-in-law, K, shut it down quite nicely with “Great!  Enough talking about it.  Let’s just do it…”. 

i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll bring jello shots.  i’ll show up.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll keep my mouth shut.  i’ll be nice.  i’ll show up….

must. up. medication.

must. increase. medication.

* The winner of the coveted STFU award can throw it back at me in the future when i’m tearing their sorry asses apart providing motherly guidance without taking a breath.  The STFU block only lasts for five minutes, but this is considered a nifty gift on occasion. Upon winning?  The Girl asked if she could re-gift it to The Boy, as he seems to be the more frequent target of my tirades… He recommended that she hang onto it.  With her return to the country, she was just as likely to need it…

** No, i certainly did not let him win.  Makes ’em tough, and prepares them for the real world.  “You gotta hit the scarecrows, or you’ll never score enough points to beat me!”  He was cool about it…

*** Couldn’t have anything to do with her eyesight?  Cataracts, macular degeneration?  Naw…. couldn’t be that…

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Why yes, that is a bullet hole…

Right foot.  .22 caliber if i had to call it… Missed the bones, but will take a few months to fully heal.  Shot from close range, but no powder burns…

Doing last minute preparations before a dinner date last night, and the phone rings.  My initial assumption is that it’s my date, calling to stand me up because he got a better offer… but it was Mom.  Uh oh… Trouble in The Park.

Mom simply asked if i was busy, and had a few minutes to talk.  Out of the ordinary for sure – and clearly not the emergency call i’ve come to expect.  Whew.  i let her know that i had plans for dinner, and would need to leave shortly but absolutely had time to talk.

Winging it’s way toward me from left field came the following:

Mom:  S (my ridiculously self-absorbed 56 year old sister) feels as though you’re discriminating against her.  That you’ve been mad at her since May*, and she is very hurt.

Wandering out to the dining room to sit down, The Boy and The Girl are mucking around, packing up gear to head back to their apartment for a few days… they quickly realize that it’s a “Drama Alert” from The Park after i launch into a short, passive-aggressive rant…

Now, back at Thanksgiving i was pretty fed up with the lot of them.  As i described to a few folks “i’m two chocolate bars short of giving a shit”.  i was prepared to level them.  The timing on this bit of tele-drama was pretty bad from that point of view…

Not sure exactly what i said, but it was a monologue along the lines of – “No, i’m not mad.  ‘Discriminating against her’?  Huh?  i mean, i get frustrated when everyone down there rolls around in the drama, and when people start barking about T(my prodigal brother).  Shit, i mean no one down there really knows me much, or seems to care much about what’s going on in my life, so i’ve just gotten used to it.  It’s ok, though.  i’m not mad.  It’s about meeting people where they are, and i know i’m not going to change anyone, so i just accept the family for who they are and go about my business… i’ll do anything to help, will always come down for get-togethers.  i love you all dearly, but it’s not my job to manage the relationship between S and T, or anyone for that matter….”

Taking a breath, i finally ask Mom “what the hell was it that S was upset about?”

Mom:  Well, DQ and i got Christmas cards from you that had a nice letter, with photos in it… and S didn’t get one with her card, so she thought you just didn’t want to share it with her….

daisyfae:[shocked briefly into silence]  Oh, fuck, Mom… that was a MISTAKE!  i was slamming the letters into the cards on my lunch hour so i could actually get them mailed before February this year, and must have missed one.  i didn’t do it on purpose…. oh, fuck…. no…. please tell her it was an oversight, i can understand why she might be a little miffed… i’ll get a note out to her tomorrow, with an apology…

In the meantime, The Boy and The Girl are sitting on the steps, amused while watching me twist athletically in midair.  The Boy pantomimes shooting himself in the foot.  The Girl just shakes her head sadly…  i mouth the words “BLOG POST”. 

Finally reassuring Mom that nothing is wrong, that i’m fine, love them all, and don’t want there to be any trouble whatsoever over the holidays.  My eyes were doing about 45 rpm in my head at this point – wondering how the hell i was going to avoid holiday drama…

As my date arrived, my phone rang – S was calling.  Oh, no.  i let it go to voicemail… Didn’t Mom tell her i was on my way out for the evening?  i didn’t even bother to get the message until much later.  The final twist?

S:  I found the christmas letter – it was still in the envelope.  Sorry I felt the way I did.  We need to talk.  I think you need someone to talk to.  Maybe we should get together sometime and have a long sisterly talk**.  You don’t have to go through things by yourself.  I want you to know I’m there for you and love you.***

a little more to the right.... that's it!

a little more to the right.... that's it!

*oh, no… it goes back MUCH further than May!  that was just when i instructed her to watch the Lion King and stop the fucking hospital dramatics.  Her insistence that she be allowed to “help” me through the breast cancer was when my tolerance meter pegged out at “Argh”…

** MY BRAIN SCREAMS AT THIS THOUGHT….   Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

*** Crap.  An apology AND a genuine kind thought!  i’ll call her.  i’ll hack up an hour or two of my life and make nice.  She means well.  Really.  But so did a few members of the Bush administration…

Park Logic

Yet another day in The Park taking Mom to her cardiologist, the lovely Dr. M.  Prior to determining next steps – double bypass or not – Mom will need additional tests done over the next couple weeks before meeting with a surgeon in April.

When we last left The Park, the heart catheterization revealed that Mom has a substantial blockage in her left main artery.  Although it wasn’t immediately life threatening, the doctor recommended that we move quickly to clear the blockage.  Mom is at a higher risk of heart attack, and due to the location of the blockage, the likelihood of fatality from a cardiac event is high.

Do the people who (in theory) share my genetics understand that this means Mom does not need additional stress or trauma?  Apparently not…

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Calling Uncle Walt…

When i was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, i asked my sister, S – a 6 year breast cancer survivor – to help break the news to Mom.  Her reaction set the world record for self-absorption.  In fact, i wondered if she would simply implode*….

Earlier this week, i encountered it again.  This time, because i was pretty sure she was jacked up on anti-anxiety drugs**, and because i’ve simply crossed my tolerance threshold, i decided to be a bit more direct with her about this behavior…

Stepping out of the cath lab to allow the nursing staff to do icky medical things to Mom’s incisions, she and i sat in a waiting area.  We’d just learned that Mom will need double bypass.

S (shaking, on the verge of tears):  I can’t take this.  I don’t know what I’m going to do without her!  I’m not ready to let her go!

daisyfae: You really need to think about what Mom needs.  This isn’t about you right now.

S (working up some angry tears): You just don’t understand.  I need her.  None of you need her as much as I do.  You’ll never understand.

daisyfae: Look, we’re all circling the drain!  We can’t change the outcome, we can only affect the path.  Freaking out is not doing anything good for the path…

S: I don’t want to talk about this!  She’s not going to die!

daisyfae: Do me a favor.  Rent The Lion King.  Study the part about “the circle of life”.  Let me know what you think.

_____

* oh, if it could only happen this way!

** clearly, an insufficient dosage….

The Clampett’s Take Granny To The Hospital

You’ve seen the episode.  Granny needs a routine medical procedure, but the Clampett’s don’t trust them smarty-pants doctors and them new-fangled doctorin’ machines.  With a show of force that could have changed the outcome at Normandy, the Clampett clan descends upon a poor, unsuspecting hospital staff, unleashing their homespun brand of hillbilly hijinks, and much hilarity ensues.

clampett_clan.jpg

 

 “Hilarity” is one word for it.  My word for it is “shoot – me – the – fuck – now – i – cannot – POSSIBLY – be – related – to – these – sociopathic – mutant – hillbilly – fucktards”.  For the purists out there, yes – i can count.  i tried the thesaurus.  There was no single word that captured the complete sentiment.

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