My great grandfather has always been one of my heroes. He died 11 years ago of Alzheimers. One day, as the disease was beginning to rob him of his memories, he leaned close to me, a twinkle in his eye and said, "you know it's those crazy damn women who did this to me!"
I've never doubted that for a moment.
This is not the first Easter I've celebrated without my extended family.
It's not even the first time I've celebrated Easter without the majority of my extended family speaking to me.
It is however the first time I've ever cooked a turkey breast. There is one soaking in brine in my refrigerator right now.
Holidays in my family have always been overly dramatic, stressful and, at times, downright traumatic. It's not so much the family get-together itself as much as it is the days and weeks leading up to the get-together. There's always someone pissed at someone else, someone showing their ass, someone getting their feelings hurt and someone threatening to bail out altogether - either out of the gathering or out of this life altogether.
This someone is usually my grandmother.
By the time the family get-together rolls around, everyone is too stressed out and on edge to actually enjoy it, except for my grandmother, she usually appears to enjoy herself.
My grandmother bailed out on the festivities last year. My mother quickly followed suit because she will take advantage of any opportunity to skip a family get-together. My aunt also opted to be a no-show, most likely because she was scared she'd piss off my grandmother if she came without her. So we had Easter with my grandmother's sister and my great grandmother. It was actually kind of nice. Very peaceful without "those crazy damn women."
Everyone was on edge last year and everyone was stressed but everyone was talking, at least to some extent.
But again, this is not the first Easter I've celebrated without the majority of my extended family speaking to me.
The first was when I was 16. The month before I had been sent two states away to live with an aunt who was virtually a stranger to me because I had made it clear to anyone that would listen that I would not live in my home for another minute with a woman who did not love me. My mother was not speaking to me and hadn't had much of anything to say to me for years. My grandmother and aunt weren't speaking to me either. They were angry that I left home to start with, angrier still that I had ended up two states away. None of them seemed to remember that my grandmother was the one who had always told me my mother did not love me or that my mother had gone for years without really speaking to anyone. No I was public enemy number one that year and "those crazy damn women" rallied around my mother, trying to make up for lost time, trying desperately to pretend as though everything were my fault because that is so much easier to deal with than accepting any responsibility for your own actions. It's always easier to blame the child.
I am public enemy number one this year as well. I've had the audacity to maintain for a full year that my grandmother is irrational and unstable, growing worse by the day and in desperate need of help. My grandmother will not deny that but she refuses to get help. My aunt also agrees but refuses to talk to my mother about it because my mother has a way of making people feel so small and stupid. And my mother buries her head in the sand and refuses to see it because to acknowledge it would mean she would have to recognize it in herself as well. So now "those crazy damn women" rally around my grandmother, trying to make up for lost time, trying desperately to pretend as though everything were my fault because that is so much easier to deal with than accepting any responsibility for your own actions. It's always easier to blame the child.
At least this year I can cook my own damn turkey. And enjoy a glass of wine with the pills I am currently taking in an effort to not be one of "those crazy damn women."
Addendum: Yes, I realize that you are supposed to have ham and potato salad at Easter. We're celebrating with my best friend Suzie this year because her family is as dysfunctional as mine. She's cooking the ham, potato salad, mac & cheese (which I won't touch of course) and greens. I'm doing the turkey, dressing, creamed potatoes, deviled eggs, chocolate chess pie and squash & zucchini. Yes we are overcompensating.