Saturday, July 28, 2007

Psychic at a Family Reunion

Ho-lee Crap!
I survived. I credit my psychic training. Seriously.

So, the trip to New York state (Sherburne, if you're from central New York) was a whirlwind of physical, emotional, and psychic stressors. There was hard labor, including carrying huge bags and boxes of crap from the attic, from crawl spaces, from the barn loft. There was tedium, including spending 4 hours shredding my grandparents home repair bills and medical statements (yeah, right, identity thieves care about the repair to the garage in '87). There was excitement, including being bequeathed my Uncle Mike's old teak bong. And there was hillarity, including a family gathering on an asphalt driveway around a fire pit.

Perhaps more detail is funny to include for the fire pit. Discussion got very rapid-fire. There were zingers singeing the air. Cousin pitted against cousin, child ragging on parent. We talked sex, drugs, and rock and roll while the kids' ears burned. Somehow I've entered a time in my life where I don't feel ill when my parents and relatives admit to being human beings with sex drives, mistakes, and crazy adventures. Boy, was that fun. PJ even made a joke that included sausages in the Biblical sense. I can't recall exactly what he said, but I think even my father had to blush, just a little bit. A few people had a little too much wine to drink. My Dad put a vinyl and aluminum lawn chair into the fire. We talked about pranking poor Uncle Dick, who was holed away in Aunt Margaret's house with a bad shoulder and a little grumpiness due to age. Thank goodness that never happened.

Speaking of stress, my Mom was under a lot of it, as she was cleaning out her Mom's stuff. Every minute we were reminded that Grandma is not the woman she used to be. She is no longer the wisecracking, sweet, practical, and generous woman that she used to be. She is now living at the assisted living facility, repeating herself, forgetting all our names, and has an addiction to small fluffy animals. It has always been hard for me to see my Mom get upset. She is usually pretty circumspect, also practical, caring, but not gushy. She is not phlegmatic or hysterical. Let's just say I would vote for my Mother, hands down, over any politician or CEO, in any election. She is brilliant, put-together, also generous, hard-working almost to a fault. So when she starts to crack, even a little, it is hard not to follow suit. You know the emotion must be overwhelming.

PJ was a rock. He moved furniture and big boxes like a pro. He was very social, which is hard for a natural introvert. He was charming and got the seal of approval from Aunt Sandy and Uncle Mike.

Adding to the stress were subterranean (potential) squabbles about who got what, what should be kept/sold, and hard feelings about missing items. In general, it was amazing to see what Grandma has collected over the years, but it caused a lot of work.

-2 scythes
-2 chamber pots
-6 "Fearless Flyer" style sleds
-many toasters, blenders, fondue pots, paper napkins
-4000 cookbooks (okay, here I'm exaggerating)
-50 glass vases from flower arrangements
-broken heaters, fans, vacuums
-beaded purses, party gloves, vintage clothing
-polyester knit sweaters
-6 boxes of pictures, some of unidentifiable relatives
-teak bong
-saddles
-metal sculptures from my Dad's welding-art days

That's only a small sampling of the wonders we found in the house. The amazing thing to me is that she (and Grandpa) used, displayed, and generally interacted with all the crappy stuff. They did not use the "good" dishes. They did not use the "good" sweaters. They never wore the "good" jewelry. The didn't even drink the "good" liquor. This Depression-era mentality caused them to live a spartan lifestyle, when they had much nicer things. I remember my Grandma complaining about her feet and wearing $10 shoes. With bunions and other foot problems. I had to work hard to convince her to treat herself. But I guess it never mattered. The good stuff for my grandparents was the family. The items didn't really matter.

With all the excitement, stress, and physical strain, it is amazing that I didn't even tear up once. Usually I'd have to had retreated at least a few times due to hearing fat jokes, too much work, not getting my way (reverting to childhood). However, I was strong, grounded, and helpful. I guess I could give just a little credit to my new antidepressant, Cymbalta, but I'm not sure. I think my emotional landscape is changing so that I can deal better with the energies of others, even under stress. And, boy howdy, that's a good thing (misquoting Martha).

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