I am writing this, seated on a wicker Adirondack rocker, on a long porch facing a quiet, tranquil lake. There is a light breeze, and although the sun is beckoning another hot, dry day, the temperature is still in the “perfectly pleasant” category. In the background hums the soft sound of a classical guitar, loons call from the lake and chickadees chirp from the trees overhead.
No, I’m not in heaven. But … it feels pretty darn close.
I wrote the above on Monday, July 15th, morning. I ran out of time to finish the post that day and on Tuesday began the long drive back to New York. It was a difficult trip and I am eternally grateful to have the porch at the Lodge to look back on as the center of peace during our stay.
The purpose of the trip was my maternal Grandmother’s memorial service. She died in November, however, true to Upper Peninsula Michigan fashion, they waited for the warm weather to bury her ashes in the local cemetery. It’s nice to gather all the kids together for a time of remembrance, but it is also difficult because it unearths emotions that have been too recently buried. It almost feels as if the person has left us for a second time and the hurt is as raw now as it was initially. I tried to dwell on the fact that, yet again, Grandma had brought the whole family back together, rather than the knowledge that her precious soul has left earth. She was the glue that held us all together and it is hard to imagine a world without her in it.
Unfortunately, this trip was not all peaceful. Family dynamics often make for dramatic moments, in spite of every best effort. A little history may be in order. My mum has a new boyfriend. Actually, they’ve been together a year now, so I guess he’s not all that new. Still, I have spent a total of 6 days in his presence, now including this past weekend. He seems fine enough. Annoying, opinionated, someone who says hugely inappropriate things, then laughs and says “just kidding” as if that makes it all fine. He is controlling and manipulative, however he does it with kind words, to my mum at least. My father was controlling and manipulative, but he did not use kind words, so for mum it feels as if she is being treated like a queen. For the couple of years she was free from dad and on her own, she started to do all those things she enjoyed doing for herself, Traveling, visiting friends, visiting children and grandchildren, entertaining people in her home, golf, bingo, gardening … her interests. I was excited by it, because she had pretty much always did what my dad wanted to do, and was loathe to be away from him for any length of time. It was nice to see her start living for herself. Enter the new man and now she is back to doing what he wants to do, only traveling where he wants to go, dropping by to visit her kids if it is on her way or convenient for them. She is selling her property, many acres of land and a great, sturdy house that she and my dad turned into a beautiful home, to move in with the new guy (let’s call him NG), in a double wide trailer type house, not nearly so nice.
I am not entirely comfortable with NG and most certainly not comfortable staying at his house, so I stayed at the motel, in the room next to my aunt. I wasn’t going to attend the memorial at all because I was sure it would cause problems NOT staying with mum and NG, however my aunt talked me into it. I am glad I went, but I was right about the problems. Mum has transferred her anger about the sleeping quarters onto the back of my aunt.
Let the not speaking to one another commence. That’s what my family does best. Get pissed, turn off and shut down.
I have a healthy dose of that myself, because what I really want to do is just exit myself from the situation and not return to the old town again. Ever. I do know that if I ever do give in and return … I will be staying at The Lodge. Because it is beautiful.
Here’s the thing. I WANT to like NG. I want to be excited that my mum has found someone who treats her nicely and uses better words than my dad ever did. She deserves that. I just wish THIS were the guy. I wish that she could find someone that she could be herself with, still go out and do things separately from, develop her individuality with, and walk alongside, instead of 2 steps behind. Because he is not and she is NOT and they do NOT … I just can’t stand the man.
Not that I would say it to his face. I smile and nod and am quite capable of being perfectly pleasant in small bursts. Knowing myself as well as I do, this means that I can not sleep under his roof. I need my own space to withdraw to, in order to refill my kindness reservoir.
And what better place than THIS ….. ?
The fallout is still happening. I am sure at some point I am going to have to write a letter and explain it to her as well as I can. (I would say it in person, but she is never WITHOUT NG, which makes talking about all the ways I find him unsuitable to be very difficult.) I am also certain that, when I do write the letter, there will be months and months, if not years, before she speaks to me again. Because, that’s how difficulties are handled in our family. I wish that my poor aunt were not thrown into the middle simply because she had the audacity to suggest I stay at the hotel near her, instead of in NG’s home. Now my mum is picking little fights with my aunt about things that have nothing to do with anything … except the need to inflict a little pain.
Ahhh … families. There IS a reason I chose to move as far away as I possibly could and vowed to never permanently return. Unfortunately, that means my son misses out on regular intervals of this …
It will all blow over and eventually the need to donate blood to the mosquito’s and horse flies of Michigan’s UP will overtake the fear of familial uprising and we will return. And we will stay at the Birch Lodge … because who wouldn’t? … and because these are there waiting for me.
Because …here … there is peace.