Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween backlog

I feel like a bureaucrat who has been called on what's not filed. Yesterday, I watched a Jackson County legislator tell someone from the finance department that "there is a break down in your office," that the goal of getting contracts, etc. online a day after they're signed by the county executive "is not happening."

Well, what is happening?

It's Halloween, so in a few hours I'll be "amusing" myself with costume-gawking, trying to get photos of kids running at light speed to the free-candy houses. I do this every year, six years in a row, and all I can say is that I'm sure I'll feel slightly more positively about the whole thing once I get there, but really, I am not interested in repeating all the pleasantry conversations that will inevitably happen between me and the volunteers, the same adults everywhere, every year.

I am under the influence of hormones that make women homi-sui-mega-cidal, so, exactly - I would rather be sitting in a witch costume on a chair on a porch with a bowl of sugar in my lap, pretending to be fake until unsuspecting kids come up and try to take a piece.

It's Halloween, so I took the down-time Tuesday to go get my cervix looked at by my doctor, who moves the office every year, it seems, due, I presume, to the fact that you can't be a solo practitioner anymore. Then I had them take blood, since no one knows my cholesterol and I spent yesterday reminding myself not to eat.

It's Halloween, so tomorrow is All Saints Day and Thursday is All Souls Day, and since my grandmother died October 19, and since she performed quite a family miracle by getting the lot of us all to attend a full Catholic Mass (at which, for the first time in decades, I actually didn't find myself hating The Church), I actually have someone to pray for.

Don't make me think about it. . .it still makes me cry.

PMS, remember?

I remember a lot of little things about her, and they're mixed up in a long ("long;" my life is only 32 years so far) personal history of growing up, of going to spend the night there at the age of nearly three, the night my brother was born, of going to Lake Londell and watching Grandma "not swim," of always knowing that there was a great supply of snacks in that kitchen closet, that Grandpa always dried the dishes right as she was washing them, that she sang "Tiny Bubbles" from a lawn chair the afternoon we kids at some family gathering learned that the air conditioner was a great automated bubble-maker, that she had nightmares about clothes-pin reindeer after we made a bunch of ornaments at the kitchen table.

She taught me about clean. She probably taught all of us about clean. I think I was surprised to learn that her sister came to do the cleaning, but nothing at Grandma's was ever dirty for long. In fact, if our husbands wanted to blame on her influence all our psychotic nagging about every dirt speck and every non-span-clean, unstraightened thing we encounter (since we will always in our hearts fall short of her supreme-clean ideal and thus secretly hate ourselves for not being able to maintain the creed of spotless and therefore express it through nagging), then they might go ahead and do that.

However, Grandpa is a clean person, too, and I think we all assumed that we could mold every male that way if we just tried hard enough.

I know there's more to it than that.

Together, they have taught us how to stay married 57 years. What remains to be seen and what can be heart-rending if I dwell on it, is how one adapts once that long partnership ends.

It is especially hard to think of someone as gone when you already picture them in your head as away. My whole family is away, across a highway I hate, and since high school, college, Japan, Kansas City, I haven't been the most frequent of visitors. My adult life with my relatives is relatively abreviated. The connection is there, but it almost surprises me.

Family is someone you already love and then get used to learning how to do it for real, by being there through time, through experience, through doing. It largely happens over holdiays, crowded, noisy events that are flanked by obligations and squeezed in between jobs and other families. In my heart of hearts, no matter how much I've complained or asked to be left alone, I think the real me is someone out there in some village or some past-America that hardly was, where my family all lived within walking distance and we walked the distance casually, frequently and were made whole by it.

And all this from a woman who doesn't have kids and never visits her in-laws who do live in town.

1 comment:

Susan said...

now you have _me_ crying - not least because I've been feeling weird about my brother and clan lately, or rather, our lack of relationship. I'm really sorry about your grandmother, trancy. I know I'm a million miles away and we never talk but if you need an ear you always have one here. Meanwhile huge thanks for this beautiful and thought-provoking post.