Blogging is a feeling.
Saturday I attended a party celebrating my mother’s 89th birthday. She has lived in an Alzheimer’s Cottage for 9 years. My father was a twin. He and his twin are both dead. But his twin’s wife is alive and lives in the same facility as my mother. Viola doesn’t have Alzheimer’s, she lives on the non-Alzheimer’s side of the building. Viola’s birthday is in January, my mother’s birthday is in February. We have celebrated their birthdays together for several years now so the two branches of the family can also have a family reunion at the same time.
Many family members were missing this year. Lives are busy. And sometimes it’s just hard to find the emotional strength to face people with whom you share formative experience.
My dad and his brother had had a complicated relationship. They were tight. But they were competitive too. Our families spent a lot of time together. Each brother had five kids and coincidently each had 3 sons and 2 daughters. They passed that competitive “feeling” on to their children.
I feel competitive of my 57 year old cousin. It’s bizarre really.
He feels it too though I’m pretty sure.
When I was in kindergarten Harold (my dad’s name is Gerald) went through a divorce. His wife had taken off with another man. My parents let him move in with us so my mother could watch the children while Harold worked. Gail, his oldest son and I went to kindergarten together. It was fabulous having my handsome cousin in school with me. Gail and I had mutual crushes on one another.
But it was a terribly tumultuous time. Harold cried (adults are not suppose to cry), the other kids fought (Gail and I hid because we weren’t fighters), my mother carried little abandoned Susie on her hip and left my baby brother to fend for himself because he was less demanding. Eventually my mother made my father ask Harold to take his kids and leave. But our families were permanently enmeshed.
Eventually my uncle remarried Viola and had two more children. My sister tells of the time she heard our drunken fathers in a silly competition.
Harold said to Gerald. “I’m as good as you now. I have five children too.”
And my Dad replied, “That doesn’t make you as good as me. I’m still better than you.”
Wow. No wonder Gail and I were competitive.
I hadn’t seen Gail in years until this Saturday. He’s sweeter and less threatening then I remember him, and more humble. More like that five year old I once loved.
But I’m still better than he is.