“Where are our recaps, Andrea?”
(Because I know you have been waiting on tenterhooks.)
Well. A couple of things happened:
1. A weekend of yard work and painting = no me mades, at least no daytime clothing ones. Pajamas as always are me-made, but no pj selfies, thankyouverymuch.
2. Then a sick kiddo and a day spent at home.
3. Then a funeral. And if there is anything tackier than trying to keep up a gimmick like a month of me-mades and its related drinking game during a serious loss to one’s family, particularly when all one’s me-mades are brightly coloured and mostly floral, I’d like to know what that may be.
4. Then the mirror fell off my bedroom closet door and shattered into approximately 3,923,512 pieces.
I give up.
Except not really because so many of my clothes are handmades at this point, I end up wearing them anyway. So technically I just about made the goal; if I include handmade pajamas and my leather work bag, I made it handily. And also I can’t play this particular gap in posting for laughs or shots, so here is a breather post before hijinks are resumed. God knows I could use a few deep breaths.
This Be The Verse (Philip Larkin)
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
Not advice I have followed–clearly–and thank goodness, because Frances is hands-down the best thing that has ever happened to me. It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be her mom, and I feel like we are un-deepening that coastal shelf, slowly. But families, man. They can be so very complicated. The ties that bind can easily be the ties that strangle.
For a variety of coastal-shelf type reasons which I am only now, at 40, beginning to untangle and explain to myself, what felt like a very close-knit extended family during my childhood drifted apart during my late teens and early twenties. I was at a loss, and a very unhappy loss as well. What happened? Why no more christmas dinners? No more family reunions? To paraphrase a recent bestseller, were they all hanging out and having fun without me?
Well thank goodness for FaceBook.
I’ll let that sentence sink in a little. I know it’s not one that you usually read.
Again: thank goodness for FaceBook, because after running into a few roadblocks in trying to get more traditional contact information, I was able to reestablish contact with my aunts and their families over the past few years. It has been such a pleasure, Dear Readers, and what a treat that is–to connect again and find out that the people you remember from when you were a child are (or have grown up to become) funny, clever, caring, generous and kind people. That they’re people you would want to spend time with even if you weren’t related. It does not always work that way with families, as I’m sure you all know, and possibly from first-hand personal experience.
Last week my Uncle Larry, who had been in declining health for a number of years, passed away. His funeral was yesterday. His branch of the extended family tree was not one I’d been able to reconnect with recently. I’d met his second wife only a handful of times, never met her daughters/his step-daughters, and hadn’t seen my cousins–his sons–since my early teens, if memory serves. How painfully awkward this must have been for them. And of course, it wasn’t good enough. One can’t swoop in and claim a family relationship just at weddings and funerals. There’s no hope of doing even that now with my uncle, which is hard to think about.
I’m tiptoeing around a football-field’s worth of eggshells here, Dear Readers. When a person dies, it is the end of a world; and for their closest loved ones as well, at least for a time, the end of the world they knew. The distance had been so great that I don’t feel I can claim a personal loss. I can’t think of a better way to put it, but how dishonest it would be for me to talk about how much I missed him, when clearly I didn’t miss him enough over the past 20 years to visit. There are people I love who are suffering terribly from this, and for myself, I feel in addition to my concern and grief for them, very keenly the loss of any future potential of reestablishing that relationship. I shouldn’t have let it go by.
Frances came with me. It was her first funeral and she was, as always, a pearl. (I told her this and she said, “What does that even mean?” I said, “It means you behaved beautifully and I’m very proud of you and I can take you anywhere.”)
Regret is a terrible take-away from a funeral. I don’t want to let it happen again. In some cases it is well and truly out of my hands, but where it isn’t, the effort must be made.
More deep breaths. And I’d love to hear any extended family stories any of you have, if you’re willing to share them.
Woods (by Wendell Berry)I part the out thrusting branches and come in beneath the blessed and the blessing trees. Though I am silent there is singing around me. Though I am dark there is vision around me. Though I am heavy there is flight around me.
10 thoughts on “Not So Much with the Sewing Edition”
I am sorry for your loss, and I’m sorry for the rift. Remember please, that you were a teen when the rift began, and be gentle with yourself because of that.
On a different topic, Phillip Larkin used to shop in a bookstore I worked in.
What was he like? Did he seem like the kind of person who would write that poem?
Thank you, Liz. You always have an encouraging word to share.
This brought tears to my eyes. I feel much the same way. I said to Mom yesterday that I felt (in my awkwardness) like I failed a bit on Monday. I should have made clear to J and D that we were not only there in support of our parents but in support of them. We were there for THEM. It probably wasn’t clear to them that it was the first time most of us were meeting Larry’s daughters and I hope fervently that they didn’t feel like outsiders although I suspect they did. I’ve looked for them on FB but cannot find them.
Thank you for writing this.
Thanks, Shauna. I felt much the same way, and it’s good to hear that I wasn’t the only one.
If you do find them, please let me know!
I’m so sorry. It’s been a rocky spring, hasn’t it. I love that Larkin poem. I use it a lot in my life
And we need to set up another lunch date soon.
Difficult. Miserable, in fact. And the missed opportunity as much as the rest. Families can be difficult and so can friendships when they hit a rock. I have had both, and guilt and anger get so twined together.
You seem to me to have done the right thing to go and take your daughter. And it also seems to me that you have more common sense than average, having read this.
Sending a virtual hug. Or two.
That’s so funny. Common sense is not a phrase I would ever have thought to use in connection with myself. But thank you for that, and for the hugs too!
Re: Larkin, he seemed very nice. A bit shy. Always wore overalls. Often came in with Andrea Dworkin, who also seemed very nice.
I’m very jealous.