Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Posts tagged ‘drama’

Weddings and Funerals

As a child, I never would have imagined that in adulthood, there would be family members I would only see at weddings and funerals.  I don’t mean distant branches of the family tree, but close relatives…. grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins.  Even as my cousins and I seemed to have less in common as we got older, I still envisioned adulthood peppered with family reunions and occasional holiday gatherings.  I have written before about the gradual absence of all but my immediate family. But inevitably, that wedding or funeral comes around.

My grandfather died last week.  He was a very handsome Italian-American named Joe; the first generation of his family to be born in America.  Family rumor has him as one of 13 children, but everyone I’ve talked to can only name six of them; the rest are assumed to have died in infancy.  I have memories of he and my Armenian grandma taking us to the donut shop for donuts-on-a-stick and stickers from the vending machine by the door.  It seemed that every time we visited, he was eating basturma (I remember it pronounced BAS-too-mah), which is air-dried, cured beef.  He was always thrilled to see us; so proud, and so protective. Coast bar soap reminds me of him, and I’m not sure why.

At 87 years old, and in failing health after a couple of strokes, Grandpa’s death was not a surprise.  A midst the predictable feelings of sadness, there mingled a few other emotions as I began planning the logistics of our trip to bid him farewell.

Stress as I made arrangements for leaving our children behind while we spent two days in New Jersey for the viewing, funeral, and burial services.  My in-laws were more than willing to watch them for us, but I needed to type up instructions so the kiddos wouldn’t try to con their way into endless screen time and no chores.  Also on the docket were a light school plan and medical authorization forms, just in case.

Indecision as I hemmed and hawed about whether or not to bring our 3-yr-old with us.  She is needy at bedtime, and also my “baby”.  She would be a great buffer for those awkward moments with estranged family members.  (She ultimately came with us and was spoiled rotten.)

Embarrassment when I thought of showing up overweight after not seeing many of these people for several years.  Adding to that embarrassment was the struggle to find appropriate clothing to wear when I haven’t been shopping for my larger body.

Anger when I thought of those family members who’d shunned myself, my parents, and siblings with no explanation.  For years, I’d known the time would come when we’d be forced to spend time together.  That time had come, and it felt like I was about to enter a hostile middle school cafeteria.  No logic.  No rules.  Just “I don’t like you.”

Excitement when I thought of the ones whose love is evident.  The ones it is a joy to spend time with, no matter how long it’s been.  The ones I can talk to and laugh with and be myself with.

Anxiety at the thought of actually leaving my children, although I had no doubt that they were in capable hands.

I spent the week praying for grace, strength, safety, and peace.  I prayed that Jesus’ love would shine through me, regardless of what was going on around me.

In the end, the good moments far outweighed the bad.

The bad…. In addition to the terrifying drive around Philly, there was the anticipated family angst.  The “shunners” were very inconsistent with their shunning.  One moment avoiding eye contact and bee-lining it away from me, and the next carrying on what seemed like normal conversations, but felt like a big game of “let’s pretend.”  It was unnerving, confusing, and a little sickening.  But those moments were few.

The good…. I got to see many family members and friends, who all came together to honor my grandpa.  I enjoyed great conversations, good food, and laughter.  My grandma did not make her usual inquiry about whether or not I was pregnant again, to which she generally responds “thank God” when the answer is no.  In fact, she proudly announced to several people that I have eight children, and told one of my sisters what a blessing my kids are.  Wow.

I came home feeling inspired to make more of an effort to remain connected.  I thought about hosting a family reunion when our house is more hospitable.  I kicked myself for bringing my camera and not taking any pictures, especially of all the cousins together.  I don’t know if anything will change in our family dynamics.  My bet would be on “probably not.”  I feel sad but resigned to that fact, and just grateful for the good times that we had this week.

My grandpa and I weren’t really very close, but every time I saw him, his face lit up with a smile.  He liked to tell the story of when I was little and just learning to walk.  I’d fall forward and end up rump-in-the-air to reveal a heart on the bottom of my diaper cover.  I’m 36 years old, and until he lost the ability to talk a few years ago, that was still a memory he shared often, and with joy.  And he called me “my Michelle.”

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Drama, Jesus, and Peace

Snarky.  The last two blog posts I attempted to write were incredibly snarky, and probably inflammatory.  They both were inspired by real-life, snark-inducing events.  While I doubt that the subjects of those posts would ever read my blog, if they DID happen upon it, they surely would recognize themselves in my words.  I don’t want to be that blogger who uses my posts as a virtual diary, so raw and transparent that they serve no purpose but to vomit out the angry contents of my brain with no attempt at finding any redemptive lesson in the thing.

As I’ve contemplated these two blog-inspiring events, I did see a common thread, and perhaps even that redemptive lesson.

I have a sister who is nearing the end of her teenage years, eagerly anticipating the end of her drama-filled high school days.  I wish I could assure her that the drama does, indeed, vanish when you hit adulthood.  I wish.  These two recent events in my life, one of which is actually a long-term situation rather than a single event, are full-on adults-causing-drama events.

1)  Adult person hates myself and all of my adult immediate family members for no apparent reason, with no explanation.  “Hates” is my word, not theirs.  But they have cut off all contact with us, defriended us on facebook (and we know that facebook friendships can be merely perfunctory, with no real value….even that was intolerable to this person), avoided being in the same place as us.

2)  Man-boy (technically an adult, but barely) verbally abuses someone I love (among other unmentionable offenses), and makes disparaging remarks about my children.  Man-boy is a product of his environment, but as he is an adult, that excuse doesn’t fly with me.  Time to suck it up and act like a decent human being.

Both of these situations can be attributed to the offenders being jerks ignorant petty  <—ok, truthfully, those things, too, but mostly they are….

Broken.  They are sad, and miserable, and broken.  That is the only reason I can think of that a grown person would participate in such drivel.  There may be a small percentage of adults that actually like drama, and even thrive on it, in the same way that many teenagers do (you know, the ones who are always simultaneously posting about how much they hate drama and giving a play-by-play of the intimate details of their lives).  But I do not believe that the majority of adults fall into this category.  (For the sake of humanity, let me be right about that!)

No, the ones who continue to lash out in hateful and hurtful ways….they are broken.  And guess what?  Bottom line is, they need Jesus.  They need Him just like I need Him, to make them whole.  I have to remind myself of that, when these things resurface, as they always do, and threaten to disrupt my happy world with nastiness and hurt.  I need to see them as Jesus sees them.  And even (gasp) love them.

I’m not in a position to love either of these people in an active sort of way.  They are not directly part of my life, nor do I wish them to be, for the time being.  But I can dial down the reciprocating animosity in favor of compassion.  I can dismiss the ranting in my brain in favor of a quick prayer for them.  In fact, whenever I feel my anger rising again, I can combat it by praying for them.  There is peace available from my Savior.  For them, and for me.  Thank you, Jesus.