Honorable Mentions

Posted: January 8, 2008 in Family, Journal

There are several topics of conversation that I have meant to post here and never got around to it. Contrary to my usual forgetfulness, I actually remember what they are, and here you may read, in no particular order:

The box. So, the day before Thanksgiving I got another box from my Uncle with stuff he (or really, his non-pack-ratty girlfriend) wanted to remove from their basement (mentioned here).

“We stopped back at my uncle’s (it’s weird to say it’s his place now, rather than Grandma’s) for a few more minutes, and I went through some of my old belongings to weed out what I wanted to keep and what I wanted to throw away. Calvin was cracking up at my old school papers (a two-foot tall stack of them dating from kindergarten all the way through high school), and I pointed out to him the multiple A’s and 100’s. I laughed at my old high school yearbook and some attempts at artwork (I was never artistically inclined), and my uncle and I discussed how best to ship my mother’s sterling silver flatware.

Though maybe he should hold onto it, in case we end up moving to Maine in the near future.”

My Uncle decided to send along the papers from my elementary and high school years, a painting of my mother and father in their wedding finery, the silver flatware set, assorted pictures and albums, and an appointment book that my mother kept during the year 1959, when she was sixteen years old.

I promptly sat down on the couch and read the entries aloud to Calvin. It was really cool to get this glimpse into her life back then. However, we were both astonished by one glaring observation. Not to put too fine a point on it, but my mother got AROUND. She’d note a date with one boy, where they went, what time she got home (often after 2:00 a.m.), then the next day she’d note a fight with said boy, then the next day she’d record a date with a different boy. Now, this would be funny if it had been recorded thus once or twice, but there were multiple notations of this cycle happening – always a date with the originally mentioned boy, after which there would be a fight and she’d go out with someone completely different, every time. Often mentioned too were the times she was out with someone else and saw the first boy at the same place, also with someone else. Fights usually ensued then, too.

That boy ended up being her first husband. Natch.

The Grandparents. A couple of days before Christmas we went to Calvin’s sister K’s house for the traditional family get-together. Food was eaten, conversation was discussed, gifts were opened, children were causing havoc. When things started to die down, I noticed Calvin’s Grandfather sitting by himself on the couch. I had been sitting at the dining room table, also by myself (everyone seemed to congregate in the kitchen all of a sudden), looking at old picture albums of Calvin and his sisters when they were little. There were a lot of pictures of his mother and the grandparents from back in the 60’s and 70’s as well.

I grabbed one of the albums and went over to sit next to Grandfather. He is in his 80’s and is getting rather infirm. Sometimes it’s hard to talk to him because he’s not altogether lucid all the time. And on this evening it seemed like he was fading – either from illness or from just being tired, I don’t know. Grandmother came and joined us after a few minutes, too. She’s as spry and sharp as ever, and has been going through a lot lately trying to keep Grandfather’s health up.

Now, being as sensitive to Grandparents as I am, I had an immediate feeling of time running out in which to spend time with this lovely man. So I knew I wanted to create a memory with him, and with Grandmother, and so I sat and opened the album. I pulled out one of their wedding pictures and passed it to Grandfather. His gaze sharpened and his face lit up, and he started telling me all about his wedding day with Grandmother. She interjected details, and they laughed and sighed about how young they were. I asked them how they met and Grandfather told me all about how a friend introduced them and he used to have to drive for hours whenever he wanted to see Grandmother. Grandmother said they had to get married because, “Grandfather wasn’t getting any sleep.” We all had a good laugh at how naughty that sounded. They married three months after meeting.

I removed more pictures and passed them between Grandmother and Grandfather. There were a couple of them in their jammies on Christmas morning back when Calvin and his sisters were little, and Grandfather said, “Now these pictures should have stayed tucked in the dresser under the underwear, Grandmother! How’d they get out?” It seemed like the more we talked and the more pictures we looked at, the more animated and articulate Grandfather became. I was a little worried that the nostalgia would just serve to depress them, but they really seemed to enjoy going back through the memories.

I’m so glad I got to spend that hour with them.

My sister. My sister and I have had our differences. The primary reason for that is because we are different. However, we are also very, very alike in some respects. So differences are usually put aside fairly quickly. I’m glad to say that after the misunderstandings of this summer we’re back to talking on a fairly regular basis.

I called her on Christmas to wish her and her family happy, and she didn’t pick up. Now, regular readers are aware of the tag-like nature of our contacts… to whit, I leave her a bazillion messages and she takes her time getting back to me. So I figured this circumstance was no different, except for the fact that it was Christmas and so therefore a little odd that she didn’t pick up.

She finally called me back (three messages later in which I sobbed, “You don’t looooove meeeee, you’re favorite (only) sister, anymore!”) on New Year’s Eve.

And so I heard the saga of why she hadn’t been calling.

Seems her family and a nearby neighbor family are feuding. They used to be very close friends… they are, in fact, the family that we all hung out with while Calvin and I were back in Maine in May. Now, the details of the feud are a little fuzzy to me since she was desperately upset while she was sharing the story. From what I got, the neighbors have been plowing across my sister’s driveway, thereby building a large snow bank that they can’t drive past and have to pay to have excavated. The neighbors were asked several times not to do this, they kept doing it, so my sister (I think) threatened to call the neighbor’s employer about the fact that he was using a company vehicle (the plow) for personal use.

The neighbors retaliated by breaking into my sister’s suburban (parked at the bottom of the driveway because they can’t get past the snow bank), taking all of the Christmas presents hidden in the back (hidden there because there’s no place to hide presents from the kids inside the house), throwing them out on the street and running them over.

ALL the Christmas presents. My sisters four kids had no Christmas this year because of this.

To boot, the neighbors called and filed completely untrue and erroneous charges with Child Protective Services, saying that my sister and her husband were abusing their kids, that the house was unlivable, and that the kids should be removed from my sister’s custody.

Of course, CPS has to investigate every charge (even though they were made aware of the fact that these neighbors were then heard bragging about the trouble they had caused my sister and her family, down at the local pub). They visited yesterday, and my sister hasn’t returned my message to let me know how things went.

I’m sure everything is fine – one thing my sister is VERY capable of is motherhood, and those kids are healthy and happy and crazy. I just can’t believe that people can DO this kind of thing to other people. If I had this family’s name (I gather from my sister that it’s the wife more than the husband that’s being spiteful), I would post their name right here on this site and encourage my readers to send them hate mail. Just the very idea that someone WITH KIDS can purposefully ruin the Christmas of SOMEONE ELSE’S KIDS, and then proceed to mess with their happiness and sense of security… well, there’s a special level of Hell reserved for that kind of person.

The kids of both families continue to be friends, oblivious of the ridiculous machinations going on. In this case, the kids are being much more mature than my sister’s idiotic neighbors.

  1. […] Carol, and my father, Sidney. According to my uncle (who sent this to me in last year’s big box o’ memorabilia), my mother had this painting commissioned for their wedding […]

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