Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A Bitter Pill To Swallow...

(Sorry, folks, fair warning - super long, and quite whiny.)

Sometimes I feel like my life is one long scene from "he/she's just not that into you." And mostly, since I'm not usually that into whomever, I'm fine with it. Every now and then though, it stings... and it seems to be cumulative too.

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently. One, I'm currently surrounded by people who do not like me and I do not like them - almost exclusively - and I'll tell you what, if I survive to get out of this hell, I will never take having friends for granted again. Ever. (Yay! I love these little learning experiences!) And two, my family is small - and shrinking. The day is fast approaching when I will be alone.

My mom is an only child of parents who divorced when she was two. Her mom was the surprise baby of a later second marriage - her nearest sibling was nearly 20 years older. By the time I came along, when Mom was 30, not only were Grams' siblings gone, most of their children were too, so Grams was pretty much it for my mom's side of the house. I'm told that they'd have been nuts over me, and I'd have loved them, if only we'd had the chance. I didn't know my grandfather's name until I was in college, and I know nothing about him.

My dad is one of five. His mother was divorced from his dad when he was quite young, and he and his older and younger sisters were split up and sent into foster care - Grams' family turned their backs on her when she needed help the most. There was a man, who'd loved her for years. He told her that he knew she didn't love him, but he loved her enough for both of them and if she'd marry him, he'd bring her family back together... and so she did. Some time after my two uncles were born, they also divorced - it turned out that he loved her, but he loved alcohol even more. All five kids grew up to be productive, and successful. When the family came back around looking to hitch up to the gravy train, it was made clear - the bridge wasn't just burned... it was gone, with no trace.

So, family for me consists of basically my immediate family, my dad's siblings, their kids and assorted spouses for a grand total (including me) of nineteen people. Total. Then you can start thinking about the geographical area involved amongst these 19 people - Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, Arizona, Texas, Washington, Oregon, California (San Fran and San Diego). We're a bit far-flung. It doesn't help with the closeness.

I have always been the one to organize things - with friends and family. I'm the one that calls, that plans, that pulls everyone and everything into place - and with my family, if I don't do it, it doesn't happen. It's not that they don't love each other, they do. But they'll sit on the freakin' couch and wish someone else would call. I am the only one of us to have visited everyone else's home. When my cousin died in the Fall of 2007, my dad's brothers and sisters all gathered in Ohio to be with my aunt. It was the first time that they'd all been together in almost ten years. (Damn, forgot that he was gone. 18.) I think part of what may be stuck in my craw right now is that none of the out of state relatives even tried to come home for Mom. I've been rationalizing this to myself for weeks - money is tight, she died on Saturday and we buried her on Wednesday so it was short notice to manage (for most of them) a cross-country trek, she wasn't THEIR blood relative - but I'm a bit pissed off about it. Mom and Dad have been married for nearly 45 years. She and Dad practically raised my two uncles. You'd think they'd have at least sent some fucking flowers. *ahem* Maybe a bit more than a bit pissed off.

This came on top of something else, that - while expected - is also something of a burr under my saddle. Several weeks ago, I rented a cabin in southern Ohio for the week after July 4. My parents and my brother will be there for the same week - in two other cabins. Before I actually reserved the cabin, I was talking to my cousin - she who lives in Oregon - and we were talking about how we hadn't seen each other in years, and we were both upset that we only seem to gather for funerals and so on and so she said something about sharing the cabin this summer. She and her husband would take one bedroom, I'd take the other and we'd split the cost in half. She did say that she was worried about money because she owns her own IT business and it's been slow lately but that air tickets were pretty cheap at the time and she thought they could do it. I told her then that if it was the difference between being able to make it or not, I would get the cabin. I was planning on getting it anyway, so it wasn't a big deal. She hemmed and hawed for a bit, and asked about the cancellation policy, and then said that she'd work it out.

She and her friends have gone to Vegas for the weekend once since then. She and her husband have spent nearly a week in San Fransisco with her brother, and another long weekend in Northern California with friends. They "splurged" and bought VERY good seats to several events for the Vancouver Olympics... in 2010. They've spent several hundred dollars on concert tickets. They bought a pure blooded mastiff puppy. I got an email from her last week saying that money was super tight and they were worried about losing the house and there was no way that they were going to make it to the cabin - in July - and she's so upset and she was so looking forward to it and yadda yadda yadda. I just can't work up any sympathy for her situation because I KNEW when she was promising to make arrangements that it wasn't going to happen. As much as she goes on about family and how much she wishes we lived closer and how much it bothers her to not see us... she's never visited me. The last time I went to visit her, my brother and I explored and played tourist alone because - even with 6 months notice - she had used all of her vacation time and couldn't take a single day off work. So I know that this part of her family is just about dead last on her priority list. I recognize that, if I want to see family, I will have to go to them because they will not come to me, or each other. And normally, it's really not that big a deal.

Really, I'm glad that she backed out this early, because I expected to hear from her as I was climbing into the Jeep to start the drive. And self-pity aside, I do have friends - very good ones (just not here). I have a whole new appreciation for how blessed I am to have them - even if they live WAY too far away. (Two of whom somehow ferreted out the calling hour information while being armed with only my name and the date she died and not only showed up but stayed for the whole horrific two hours. I love them, and right now, would walk through fire for either one of them.) Several of whom WILL be joining me in my cabin, and we will have a wonderful time and I'm really looking forward to it. Actually, to be blunt, I'll have a better time with them than I probably would have had with my cousin.

It does sting, though, when I realize that my family will never be what I wish (sometimes quite desperately) they would be. And I can bend until I break, but I can't make them into anything but what they are. As a friend said once, "It's like being mad at the rain for being wet. You don't accomplish anything, and the rain doesn't care." Still hurts though.

*sigh* Well, if you managed to survive the wallow, you deserve something. Here, here's a kitty.


threecollie said...

Sorry for your tragic loss and sorry I didn't get all of your last post. I didn't read all of it I guess. Kind of stupid of me to say happy birthday when you just lost someone so dear to you.
The only excuse I can offer is that we are dealing with a lot of really bad stuff just now and I am well past the point of crazy. These days I am wishing there was some way I could tell the world....I am waiting for phone calls that have terribly serious implications for my family. Please don't call to ask me to take a survey and give me an adrenalin rush ten times a day. By the time someone actually calls from the hospital I am ready to shoot the phone.
I hope anyhow that someone comes through to support you and make you feel that your family. And meanwhile there really is nothing like a good kitty to hug. And yours is a beauty.

Island Rider said...

While we can't choose our family, we can choose our friends and in this case, it seems like you have not only chosen good ones, but they have chosen you as well. I am sorry about your loss of family, but happy for you that you have dear friends. That vacation will be wonderful because of them.