June 11, 2006

Lump in my Throat

As I often do on Sunday afternoons, I drove down to see family today. I spent the better part of the day with my Great Aunt Christine, baking bread. She's 92 years old and can no longer see. Other than her sight, she has been in excellent health. It's just been in the last month or so that I've noticed that she has been getting confused - about people, about dates, about events, about memories. It's inevitable, I realize - but sad none the less. She's currently my oldest living relative on my dad's side of the family - my grandmother's sister - and I desperately want to hold on to her as long as I can. I'm praying for many, many more days of bread baking with Auntie Christine.

Baking homemade Lebanese bread and not taking any of it to my dad would be like jumping in a pool and not getting wet. It just can't happen. I arrived at my dad's house - bread in hand - on a mission this afternoon. In just over a month our family will be celebrating something big. It's the 30th year anniversary of our Annual Family Campout. This is the single most memorable event of my childhood. Our entire family and close family friends - over 70 people - attend this event the third weekend of July every single year. My aunt and unlce have graciously hosted this event at their home, which is located in beautiful Loma Mar, year after year.

For the 30th anniversary I thought it would be nice to get them a special gift. Because I'm addicted to family photos and Snapfish, I want to have a set of coffee mugs made with photos from our campout from over the years. I've got my work cut out for me because I don't even know exactly where the old photos are located. I spent nearly three hours at my dad's house tonight looking for them to no avail. I'm not giving up. I'll get on the phone tomorrow and contact my many relatives to get copies of theirs ...

My dad's fiance came over and made us dinner tonight - and this is where my lumpy throat comes in. For the first time, I felt uneasy around her tonight. She didn't do or say anything to make me feel this way. It's all me.

I'm afraid of the future, frankly - and going through some of my parents old photos today brought it all to the surface. She and my dad will be combining households sometime within the next year. This means that my family memories - belongings that are special to me because they remind me of my parents, or because my mom collected them, will be going to live with her. That's fine - I truly have no issue with that. But what happens - hopefully many years from now - if my dad happens to pass away before she does? He is older than her (only five years, thank God!), and so the odds are against him outliving her. What happens then? Do I waltz in to her house and take back everything that belonged to him and my family? Wouldn't that be mean? Or, do I wait until she passes away and simply trust that her kids won't steal my family momentos from me? I've met her kids exactly once so far - so I don't yet know them well enough to trust them. But even if I did know them well, I've experienced enough death in my life to know how it changes people. After my maternal grandmother passed away, my aunt (my mom's sister) became a raging bitch and wanted every single thing that my grandmother owned. She didn't want to share a thing with the rest of the family. She went so far as to get in an argument with my mother over a set of wine glasses that belonged to my paternal grandmother and were given to my maternal grandmother from my mother with the understanding that they would one day be given to me. My aunt actually tried to take them - and my aunt's normally a very nice, very mellow woman. But the unexpected death of her mother turned temporarily changed her. Her grief led to her wanting desperately to hold on to every material item that she could possibly grab.

Anyway - I just get a lump in my throat every time I think about it. I did mention something to my dad tonight, and luckily he took it well. I requested that he allow me to come over and document everything that he takes to their new home so that many, many years from now when I have to try to remember what belonged to our family, I'll have help via the photos and documentation. I was relieved to hear that he had thought of doing the same thing himself.

My fear is that this lump in my throat is putting off a negative vibe, if you will, towards my dad's fiance. It may have been my over-sensitivity, but I felt a bit akward around her tonight for the first time.

I am truly, truly happy that my dad has fallen in love with this wonderful woman - I really am. I'm just scared. Terrified, really. And praying that this feeling will pass.

3 Comments:

Blogger Mama of 2 said...

After reading your post I have to weigh in here -- with my own lump in my throat.

A year and a half ago my favorite aunt passed away from cancer. She was the cool aunt only 15 years my senior and she was my everything.

Well as she was going through her ordeal things between her side of the family (my mom, her other sister and myself) and her husband (I don't even dare think of him as my uncle any longer) deteriorated so badly to the point that my aunt's own sisters weren't even a part of her funeral. He cut us all out of the picture.

There were many things that were family mementos from my aunt's side of the family that she had gotten when my grandmother passed away and now he has all of them. And wouldn't return a single phone call about any of them. He even went as far as telling his family how selfish we were for asking for them. It angers me since honestly while those things are in his house and can be considered his posessions they belong to my family (my mom and my other aunt). They hold sentimental value for them and not him.

So my suggestion to you is this and I know it won't be easy in any way but you need to address your concerns with your father. You need for him to put provisions for you in his will. I know that sounds so morbid but honestly from where I sit and my experiences it's necessary.

You never know what another person is capable of until put to the test and by then it's too late.

5:06 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

I found you through mama of 2. My father has remarried several times and is working on his third divorce. He currently has a new "ladyfriend" he's living with. I often think of things that these women will get if something happens to my father and I get very sad. It's a difficult thing to address since you don't want your dad to think you only worry about things. But, I agree with mama of 2, you should discuss your concerns with your dad. Now, if only I could take that advice. Good luck.

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Mama G said...

Good news ... I've not only talked to my dad about my concerns, but also to his fiance. My concerns were well-received and I feel much, much better about things!

7:49 AM  

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