mslulu: (Default)
I'm having some serious issues here with the whole Christmas spirit thing. I just can't get into it. Maybe it's because Chryste and Terra couldn't make it down from Seattle this year. Maybe it's because I'm sick and want nothing but to sleep, yet I'm stuck at work on Christmas Eve, not that there's anything holiday related going on today. We did the gift exchange & gathering with my stepmother's family yesterday instead of today since too many people had other things going on today.

So, I spent yesterday sick, and bored, packed into a small house with 30 people I barely know and several screaming children. Those who know how well I deal with crowds can imagine how social and happy I was not.

And tomorrow I have my own actual family to be with. More people who don't get me and who I have very little in common with other than blood. I'm the only one of the cousins who isn't either married or a parent and I don't really feel like I belong. They also all have the same religion in common, which I don't. It's not usually an issue, because they all assume that I'm Christian too, but it's a little uncomfortable when the bible readings start. Maybe this year I won't get something cutesy, embroidered and flowery from my aunts. Probably not though.

I wish Chryste were here.
mslulu: (Default)
Incoming news regarding from my Step-Mother regarding my Dad. I'm alternately nauseated, worried, and freaked out. Eyes are a really sensitive spot with me. This should make for an interesting Christmas:

Just wanted to let you all know that Bob had a procedure
to re-attach the torn retina on his left eye yesterday.
It was rather sudden, and due to a rapid loss of vision
on Wednesday. They injected a bubble into the eye that
is supposed to lift and hold the retina in position
while it heals. We won't know for sure how effective it
is for a few days. Meanwhile, he has to lie on his
right side and hold his head as horizontal as possible
for 4 or 5 days. We will see the DR. again today.


How do retinas get torn in the first place?
mslulu: (Default)
It occurs to me that I've painted a picture of my mother as a self-centered, emotionally abusive, racist psycho. Okay, while not a completely inaccurate image, I think I should probably say some nice things about her too.

Mom was an incredibly strong, determined woman. She never hesitated to jump to her children's defense when we were being treated unfairly. (The exception being when the mistreatment was coming from my step-father, but that's a whole other journal entry.) She never made us feel as financially poor as we were. She was beautiful. She had a terrible sense of humor and couldn't dance to save her life... always a great source of amusement to me and Chryste. She was a natural healer, possessed with both the ability and the desire to do so. She took care of people. She had a killer sense of direction. She was generous. She loved us.
mslulu: (Default)
My mother died one year ago today. I've declared today a personal holiday and called in sick, not so much that I'm sitting around the house mourning (I'm doing laundry and inventing a double feature at the movies), but that I don't think this is a day I want to be around anyone other than complete strangers in a theatre, or my close personal friends.

I just listened to the audiotape of her memorial service a few weeks ago. It was strange. It angers me somewhat that she made such an effort to be loved and adored by the people in her community, yet she couldn't make the effort to accept her own daughters for their uniqueness. As I listened to all the people talk at the service, I realize that none of these people ever saw the real Karen. They don't know how many times the phrase "you stupid kids," was hurled in our direction, or the criticism and voiced disappointment that was most often preceded with the words "Oh, honey."

I loved my mother, and I don't doubt that she loved us, but there are so many memories that have been surfacing over the last year that suggest that she just wasn't very good at being a mom. Oh, she was fine with babies. That's what she did best, but once the babies started to develop ideas, beliefs, and fashion tastes that conflicted with her own, she couldn't handle it. She was embarrassed by us, by our differences from her, and she didn't attempt to hide it. Instead she told us we were wrong, that she didn't want to be seen with us the way we were dressed, that if we had made the choices she approved of, our lives wouldn't be such crap. As if her choices had all turned out perfectly.

But, according to the community of Fredericksburg, TX, Karen could do no wrong. Karen was an angel, sent to earth by God to make everyone's lives more blessed by her presence. Karen was not prejudiced against color, social status, or any other form of social diversity. (Apparently they never heard her speech on how the white race is really God's chosen people, not the Jewish people as popularly believed.) "Our Karen," they called her, and she loved it.

I just wish she had spent less effort trying to endear herself to the community and more effort learning about her daughters, and why different doesn't always mean wrong.
mslulu: (Default)
I've been feeling the need to write since my mom died. Actually the urge kicked in about a month before that, while I was in Texas, visiting her, along with 17 other family members. That week was just amazing. I've never put too much thought into the idea of my extended family as a coherent unit. More often, it's the dysfunction that stands out in my mind. We don't tend to be very good at managing our individual lives, so it doesn't occur to me that we might actually work well as a group.

I realized my oversight that week. When I first arrived at my mom's house, I walked in the front door to find a strange woman cooking breakfast and two small children running about. The strange woman turned out to be my cousin, John's wife, Theresa, who I had only met once before. The children were their daughters, Kelsee and Kaitlyn. My aunt Kathy was taking care of Mom, and my uncle Mike was snoring on the sofa. Mike snores so dramatically that it only took my niece, Terra, a few days to figure out the new word. It was only minor chaos at this point, but with more family members arriving over the next 2 days, it had the potential to become major chaos.

Soon, there were 18 of us in all, including five small children ranging in age from 9 months to 7 years. The doorbell was ringing every ten minutes with someone from the community bringing food or flowers or money. We had so many pre-cooked chickens by the end of that first day, we were inviting neighbors over to help us eat it. Home health care had come to set mom up with a protein IV. Ministers and well wishers were waiting in line in the living room to get in to see mom. There was such amazing community love and support for my mother. Being the city girl I am, I was just blown away by how an entire small town will pull together to aid one of it's members in need. But it was my family that blew me away even more.

We fell naturally into a communal group. No dish was unwashed, no bed unchanged, no child undisciplined (or undiapered for that matter). Nobody had to take charge and direct the others. Everyone had their own, sometimes surprising strengths that filled the individual needs as they arose. John and Theresa were both medical professionals and had the skills and knowledge needed when mom's Home Health Care nurses weren't immediately available. Mike drove anyone anywhere they needed to go, whether it be to the airport in Austin or to the burger place down the street. Aunt Norma turned out to be an inventive cook, turning the leftovers no one wanted into a completely new and attractive meal. Even cousin Suzanne, who could not make the trip due to health problems of her own, was felt through the money she sent - what she would have spent on plane fare if she had been able to come. And on Sunday, when Mom decided she felt up to going to church, we loaded into three cars and a minivan, put religious differences aside, and filled the front two rows.

It was an emotionally exhausting, yet also invigorating week. I will always think of my family in that setting now, the loving, supporting, powerful combined unit, instead of the individuals, struggling and fumbling through their personal lives and problems.

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