This happens every time. It’s an emotional roller coaster. And it makes me feel guilty. It’s not Leave it to Beaver or Father Knows Best. More like the Borgias meet the Waltons.
Family get-togethers, at least for me, are very stressful. This is especially true when it’s my side of the family. And the most recent one was no different. My parents and sister were coming 800 miles to visit. The big event? My daughter’s college graduation.
The house would have to thoroughly cleaned. Toilets, kitchen, living room. Clothes and papers all put away. Not necessarily where they belonged, but put away out of sight. Meals planned. And the schedule had to be set down to the minute. Not that we expected to stick to the schedule.
Some members of my family are notoriously slow. Some, like me, just because we are oblivious to time. Others because they are just slow moving. Still others because they are focused on their own activities, and not too concerned about others. Thus, saying we need to leave the house at seven means we might get out by eleven. I know, ridiculous. One of those things you have to be there to understand.
My wife had the highest stress level. She had to think of all the minutiae that had to be done. I helped do it. Not really the brawn to her brain, just the assistant when it comes to these things. I have my own strengths in other areas.
The weather wasn’t helping either. The ceremony was to be outdoors. Rain was in the forecast. Some wise administrator from the college was going to make the call as to whether the ceremony would be moved indoors in case of rain. They chose to keep it outdoors. In the rain. A unique, and certainly memorable occasion.
Did I mention that the family dynamics were less than stellar? Certain members of the family do not get along well. Incredible tension there. Everyone has his or her own likes and dislikes which wrecks havoc with making any sort of unanimous decision. Even with a little thing like where to eat a meal. I’m the peacekeeper in the family. And I felt like I was standing on the DMZ of the Korean Peninsula or Gaza Strip.
The whole time I kept telling myself it would all be over before too long. And then it was over and I found myself saying goodbye to my parents. I don’t see them often because they live far away. They are at an advanced age, but doing very well all things considered. It always hits me though that this could be the last time I see them. That makes me very sad. And I wish, well, I wish we all got along better. But I know the next get-together will be much the same. I guess that’s just how families are.
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