Quality time with the family is much more tolerable, occasionally even enjoyable, if observed through the lens of a blog post, or better yet, perhaps a podcast. For instance, yesterday, during the never-ending afternoon spent cleaning out my paternal Grandmother's storage shed, I imagined the opening rift from "Money" playing just after Grandmom threatened to decrease my inheritance as punishment for putting one of her sweaters in a plastic bag ("You're ruining my clothes!"). And that line from "Hair ("Mary loved her son/why don't my mama love me?") when her response to my father's recent sharing of a stage with a nobel prize winner was, "well I hope you at least bought a new suit." Or maybe I would just structure the whole thing as a top five list:
Moment #5 - Grandmom snatching old, molding, crumpled wrapping paper and ribbon out of my hands before I can throw it away. Nevermind that she never remembers any of her children's or grandchildren's birthdays, so I can't imagine what gifts she plans on wrapping.
#4 - Grandmom arguing with Dad about the broken wooden pallets the movers had left in the shed - "They're worth money!" "Mom, what are you ever going to do with them?"
#3 - Grandmom screeching "You're stealing my money!" whenever Dad and I would put something in the bag for Goodwill rather than Hidden Treasures (her apartment complex's version of Goodwill; donations to either have the same monetary result; the fact that she is perfectly stable financially and that tax deductions from donations will hardly be a blip in her records aside).
#2 - "What about my bathing suit? I'm sure my bathing suit is in a box just like that one." Repeated throughout the afternoon, in response to boxes clearly full of pillows, papers, and any of a number of other, clearly non-bathing-suit-type items.
#1 - The running commentary from buried deep in the back of our loaded-to-the-ceiling rental car she provided all the way back to her place. "I used to drive this way all the time...I know a shortcut...no, don't turn right here! I'm going to tell you where to go...oh...wait...maybe you did want to turn right there..."
I know she's very unhappy, and it breaks my heart that she thinks we spend time with her out of desire for a bigger piece of the pie in her will, and I know I shouldn't make fun of her...but I guess I'm just not that nice anymore.
All in all, I really shouldn't complain. The trip has been pretty great - we'd barely been here an hour when Dad looked at me and said, "Have I told you lately how proud I am of you?" and we hugged and I told him how much I need to hear that from time to time. (and thought to myself, wow, has he been spying on my therapy sessions?) And as difficult as time spent with Grandmom is, I'm glad that I'm finally in a position to make those times a tiny bit less painful for Dad just by serving as a buffer and by knowing when to intervene on his behalf. And when we got home last night Mom and Grandma (Mom's Mom) welcomed us with beer, so the rest of the family is pretty awesome.