My older sister and her husband joined us Saturday and together we helped Gael and her husband prepare for a Sunday evening party.
On Sunday morning, my big sister and her love drove me to Port Hope to see my parents. My mother cried when she saw me. My father, not expecting us till later in the day, was out roaming but returned soon after a phone call, to give me a big hug.
I feel so fortunate at 60 to have both my parents alive, lucid, and mobile. And although time has slowed them down and both have health issues, they are doing remarkably well for folk in their 80s.
Today, Monday, I'm up at my usual time - 5 in the morning - sipping tea after having unlocked and relocked the five locks and bolts on two doors that lead to the back garden, to smoke a cigarette. My parents own a heritage house, same vintage as my sister's, but theirs is crammed to overflowing with antiques. I suppose they fear some thief will slip in and rob them. But five locks? Given that they live beside a police station where there is always a cop or two outdoors enjoying the same filthy habit that I have, it seems excessive. Although to be fair, some thief did slip into their front hall and took off with a small table. The police caught him.
Nuclear families are strange units and even now that I'm grown, I bring the child that I once was home with me, the child who wanted a fairytale family in which every one smiles and is kind - oh so kind to each other like the March family in "Little Women." Of course, I identified with Jo, the writer, the independent sister who was less feminine, more adventurous than Meg, Amy, and Beth. I'm also bossy like Jo but, come to think of it, all my sisters are bossy. Together, Rob's sister once said, we can be overpowering.
And so back in my father's house, I find my parents still aren't Mr and Mrs March...
A few weeks ago, Rob told me about a time when we were setting out on a long road trip and before we had even left our street, I spat some harsh words at him. I vaguely recall the incident. Still I was shocked when he told me about it. I didn't think I could be so mean.
My mind wanders, thinking such things as "well no one's perfect" and "I am usually kind." I see that I still want to be the easy daughter, wife, friend but this would mean, to my mind, denying part of myself. And yet it's more complicated than that.
When I think of that time with Rob, I realize that my meanness was a cover for my fear. I was terrified of spending days in a car. After the car accident I had a few years back, I have become an impossible passenger. I know that people do stupid things behind a wheel and bodies are fragile. Unfortunately and unfairly, my fear cum venom were directed not at the asinine driver who could have killed me but at a safe driver who loves me.
Coincidentally a friend just told me a story about her husband and herself. They had been passing angry words back and forth and she stopped herself mid stream with the thought he loves me and wishes the best for me. This same friend was having difficulty relating to her son's wife and she asked him what to do. He said "just love her." It worked.
And so here in my father's house, I'm thinking about love and how it is sometimes expressed in negative ways because there's other emotions (like my fear) at play under the surface.