ba ba black sheep

Because I live roughly 500 miles away from my mom, mother's day is not normally something I need to make plans for. Even though I also have a stepmother who lives only about 50 miles away, she just doesn't consider it that big a deal. It does, however, always fall right around both their birthdays, so for some reason, they are both very sensitive about that being remembered. I get that, I was born the day after Christmas. A little hard to compete for attention with the birth of the son of God. This year, mother's day also happened to fall on the same weekend that my aunt died.

I haven't written much about my extended family, and that's mostly because well..they're nuts. I know everyone thinks their family is crazy, but mine is totally crazier. I can prove it:

1. Included in the family is one certifiable, voices-hearing schitzophrenic aunt.
2. There are varying degrees of depression, anxiety, alcoholism throughout the entire side of my mom's family.
3. Along with the regular mental instability, there also exists a religious fanatacism. The best manifestation of that is my grandmother's house, because she's hard core Irish Catholic. How hard core, you ask? Well, when she could no longer find an appropriate latin mass to attend, she simply had a priest come to her home to do mass in her own chapel, in her house. Uh huh, pews, altar, the whole deal.
4. Add all of that to crazy amounts of old family money and it is a veritable cauldron of manipulation, being stirred by the matriarch herself. There are constant threats of will-changing and cutting children off.
5. Did I mention my mom is one of twelve children?

One of the seven sisters died on Friday night. I know it sounds cliché, and maybe a bit mean, but in the jumbled mass of dysfunction that is my family, Aunt J was one of the (few) good ones. Why did the good one have to go? With 2 young daughters? One is 18, which is a hard age to have to be a grown up anyway, and the other is just 14. A 14 year old girl needs her mommy. Aunt J knew the family was nuts, which surprisingly, they don't all get. Or, at least they live in staunch denial of it. On the rare occassion I had to be around them all, she and I shared a bond over the irony of it all. She was funny, and even better, she thought I was hilarious. I could make jokes about all the crazy and she would just laugh this great laugh of complete understanding. I think it amused her that not only was I now an adult worthy of real conversation, but somehow, because my sister and I had kept a fairly safe distance from them all, I had grown up to see them with the sort of perspective that isn't common in the family.

Aunt J was sick for a long time. Cancer. Went into remission for a while, but eventually spread fast and furiously, and the last time I saw her, she had lost most of the sparkle in her eye. I can't possibly know what happens in one's mind when you know you are on borrowed time. She became closer to her mother in the last year, and I have to think that while it's good that she got to have that bond that is so hard to achieve with the woman-so-cold-you-wouldn't-believe-she-could-ever-do-that-thing-that-makes-12-babies, I also think it magnifies how sad it is that the only way to achieve it was to be facing imminent death.

So, my mom is heading up tomorrow for the funeral. There are 2 services because she lived down south, so this is the family's mourning time. I will, of course, be going, begrudgingly. Don't get me wrong, I'm sad that she is gone and I don't hate the thought of being at the funeral for any other reason than the depth of issues one has to dive into to deal with all the rest of them. She would have understood that and not questioned my reluctance in the least bit. I have to go because I cannot allow my mother to face them alone. She is the black sheep, having run away at 17 and marrying my hippy father. My grandmother still hasn't gotten over it, 40 years later. Good thing that whole grudge-holding thing is an inherited trait. Thanks for that. Sadly, I cannot trust that, even in a time of mourning, they can all be decent to one another. I am going as the buffer. Good times.


Kel said...


oh, yeah - I got it ;)