My mother is staying with us for the week. Without my dad. Originally my parents were supposed to take the kids with them to my father's family reunion in Cape Cod, leaving GH and I with yet another week of childless bliss this summer. But that was not to be.
My mother was hesitant to go on this trip in the first place. My father's family has never treated her well. They've never been very nice to my dad either.
My dad comes from a very large Roman Catholic family. They also happen to be fairly wealthy due to the large Connecticut based insurance agency my grandfather started. Of course this, sets up a certain pattern of "acceptable" behavior and expectations. Unfortunately, my dad never managed to meet them.
When my dad was 17, he got a girl pregnant and had a child out of wedlock. After that, he went to college in Colorado, where he majored in being a hippy. He then moved to Vermont, and committed the sin of marrying my mother, who already had two children, and was not Catholic. He never went back to Connecticut, and never joined the family insurance business.
There's more to it, of course, but it would be to much, and far to hurtful to disclose here. What it came down to was as kids, my siblings and I were never really acknowledged by father's family. My older brother was born out of wedlock. My sister and I weren't my dad's biological children. My younger brother, well he was still my mother's son. Growing up, at the W family gatherings, there was always a sense of being left out. My mother was shunned, and even verbally attacked. She bore it the best she could without letting us kids know, but the awkwardness was always felt.
As I grew older, I learned to ignore the hurt of being snubbed by the W's. This was especially useful when I became an unwed mother myself. I still remember after the birth of my son, grandpa W telling me "It's really to bad you'll never be able to anything with your life now." Luckily, his ignorant attitude no longer had the power to cut me to the bone- just piss me off a bit.
As the years went on, my mother learned to defend herself as well. She no longer bore the W's insults and hostility silently. I was proud of her, and we shared laughs over the W's pretentious, hypocritical ways.
The one saving grace of the W family seemed to my father's youngest brother, who we shall call Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face. Now, somehow Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face had managed to move to Colorado and away from the W family business without alienating himself from the W family. A small miracle. My parents always got along with him and his recent wife the best out of everyone.
Last year, my parents went out to visit Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face for several days. Now, what the W family has been hiding carefully for several years is that Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face has a drug problem, and possibly some mental health issues as well. While my parents were out in Colorado, Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face, went, well, crazy. He terrorized my parents, threatened them, and even called my mom a C U Next Tuesday. They thought he was going to kill someone. To this day, they're not even sure what set him off. After that though, my mom swore she would never speak to him again unless he got help for his problems.
And back to the family reunion. My mom was already reluctant to go, especially when she found out all of the grandchildren had been invited- that is, all of the grandchildren except for me and my brothers and sisters. After working past that, my parents decided to go anyways and take my kids because my kids love playing with all of their W cousins who were going to be there.
And then they found out that the W's were making my parents chip in more for their 3-day stay in the house they rented than any of the other families that were staying there the entire week. And then, they found out that Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face would be there even thought my parents had been assured he wasn't coming. Oh yeah, and Uncle-Crazy-Ass-Face wasn't being asked to chip in for the rental house at all. My parents were essentially paying for his stay.
My mother decided this was the final straw, and she wouldn't attend the reunion. My dad worked hard to sway her, and my mother teeter-tottered over her decision up until the day they were supposed to leave for the Cape. My mom arrived last night sans my dad. My dad's in the Cape having an awkward time. Neither of my parents are happy.
So my question is, why do some families have to be so stupid? Even with all of the advantages in life, some families choose to be exclusive, petty clubs, who can pick and choose who gets to belong and who isn't good enough. Who isn't good enough for their family for god's sake. A family that claims to be a good Christian family.
There is hope for the W's- it appears my first cousins are turning out to be decent adults, and the generation that's growing up in my kid's age group appears decent so far, even if they do own more pricey electronics that God. Perhaps my kids will avoid the sting of stigma's that they have no control over- being born to an unwed mother, growing up with little money, etc. Perhaps. And, if this generation decides to follow in their parent's footstep, to be cruel to their own family for a set of outdated religious tenants, or status, well then, my kids can grow up without the W's. And it will be their loss.