(which could also be titled “Knowing how to behave when it really counts”)
You could say my family puts the fun in dysfunctional. But it’s not always fun, and it’s not always dysfunctional.
From where I stand, every single person in my family shares a common goal: Make Grandma happy.
I think we were all born understanding that we were placed in the arms of a special woman. Grandma will be 94 in November. She started being a mother a month after her 15th birthday when her mom died of the flu. She feels eternal to us – we started planning her 90th birthday celebration a year in advance. No one thinks of life without Grandma, I think we’re all also assuming she will live forever.
I realizing driving home from the big family shindig this weekend that I couldn’t figure out how I felt – I didn’t feel particularly passionate in any familiar direction – joy, anger, annoyance, fear, sadness – any of the normal sensations that tick through me after a weekend with the fam.
Today I realized I feel grateful. I looked at the evening through Grandma’s eyes and understood why:
She is 93 years old.
She has four children who were all at the wedding with their spouses/sig others. She was driven to the wedding by her older daughter who is kicking the ass out of breast and thyroid cancer – who decided to ignore her doctors when they told her not to travel – who looks absolutely stunning in her “is it or isn’t it a wig” and her neckline showing the stitches from her thyroid surgery this same week. (My people – we are obstinate – It can serve us well). She was met by her youngest son who also managed to kick a little cancer butt this year.
13 of her 14 grandchildren were there. Everyone playing nicely with each other. Everyone stopping to spend some Grandma time.
All 14 of her great grandchildren were there. 3 she had never met before.
2 more grandchildren told her they were expecting in February/March.
The family was together. The family was happy. I’m grateful she had this night. I’m grateful we took the time to go. I’m grateful, for this moment, to be a part of this family.
(There are, as always, stories of baby poop, screaming on the highway, flasks of bourbon in purses and pockets, and all night parties, how my throat hurt for days in anticipation of screaming arguments – but this is about how well everything can all go down when everyone knows how to behave when it really counts.)