800km, three days, and one funeral later, I am home.
It was a nice funeral. The talk was split in reasonable parts between Nana’s life and religion. I’ll grant you that I felt weird – back in a church I’ve not stepped foot into since I left Mum’s home – but it was fine.
And all the family were welcoming. Which was the bit I’d been most concerned about. Friendly and chatty and … well, they acted like family.
I was fine through most of the service. Only really started crying when Nana’s life as a cook was mentioned, and I remembered the fish custard story.
She was cooking for a convention. Several hundred, if not a thousand, people to feed. (As part of a team, I mean.) She was tucked into a dark corner of the kitchen, making fish stew.
It needed thickening, so she added cornflour. Tasted. It didn’t taste … quite … right.
So she took the cornflour box into the light. And realised that no, this was actually custard powder.
After a little doctoring, they served it anyway. Apparently the fish custard was a big hit…
Nana passed away in her sleep this morning. Mum rung me at work to let me know – and to ask me to ring my other grandmother and tell her. Which I did, as I’m a dutiful granddaughter.
I am presently sitting in a park near work, letting myself mourn. And yes, for me that involves telling the Internet. I’ll be OK. She was 81, after all. It’s a good innings.
My Uncle is 1.5 hours drive away; Mum hasn’t told him yet, so that he can drive there safely. He’s already on the road. Mum’s sitting beside Nana’s bed reading the Bible aloud to her.
I’m glad we went to visit last weekend.
My paternal grandmother is unwell. Mum forwarded a text from my aunty – she’s scheduled for a gastroscopy and colonoscopy, as her blood count keeps dropping and they don’t know why.
It says something about familial relations that my first thought was “Why should I care?”
Then I felt guilty. Why do I feel guilty for reciprocating my family’s indifference with indifference? Why can’t I just get over, or at least get on with, the fact that they don’t care about me?
I wonder if I’d mind less if there was a reason that mattered to me. If it wasn’t because of religion, it it was because we actually had an argument, because someone behaved badly. If I’d hurt someone, rather than dropping the facade of faith in a God I don’t believe in.
My mother has never been judgmental of my choices. She knew that my leaving the faith was the right thing for me. Above all, she wants me to be happy. Further, she is a good Christian – she believes judge not, lest ye be judged.
My paternal grandmother, on the other hand, had a rant at my mother about a month ago, when my aunt and uncle went to visit my non-religious cousin (their son). He’s happily partnered up, with a little girl. My grandmother didn’t think it was appropriate that my aunt and uncle should be visiting him. Because he’s non-religious, and living in sin.
I always felt comfortable with my paternal family. I’m very much my father’s daughter – I’m his to the bone, where I never fit into my mother’s family as a child. I didn’t understand their humour – I was in my teens before I was able to appreciate my maternal uncle’s dry wit. But in my father’s family, I fit in. I have no siblings; but knocking around with my cousin, I got some taste of that relationship. We thought the same way, shared the same sense of humour, even the same quick fiery temper. I belonged.
Maybe that’s why their indifference hurts. It angers me that my aunt and uncle would rather put up in a hotel in my city, rather than stay in our home. It angers me that my paternal grandmother isn’t interested in my life. It angers me that such un-Christian behaviour is apparently considered acceptable to non-Christians. That’s not Christianity as I was taught it. I may not practice their faith any longer, but I know what it should look like. It angers me even more that I know they can’t see their own hypocrisy.
I haven’t seen my father’s family in over six years. I last spoke to my paternal grandmother two years ago – she wanted to know the date of my marriage and the birthdate and name of my husband, purely to add his name to the family tree. My own grandmother didn’t even know my husband’s full name. She knew the name he goes by, his nickname, but not his legal name. Once she got that information, she wished me well and hung up the phone.
At least she was polite, I suppose.
I have a wonderful husband, a good mother, a good grandmother (maternal), in-laws who welcome me wholeheartedly. I have an honorary big brother, and other good friends. It’s not that I’m unloved. I’m grateful for the relationships I do have, and I’m lucky to have them. But… I want to be accepted on my own terms, for my family to understand that my life is valuable, that the choices I’ve made were good ones. I want to belong.
Maybe that’s why their indifference hurts. And I wish it didn’t.
It’s Christmas Eve. Well, technically it’s Christmas, as it’s 02:41 on the 25th. We’ve been in the UK nearly a month, and I don’t know what to say about it.
I miss the cats. Not so much home, but I miss my Tigra girl especially.
We’ve just returned from midnight mass. This is a tradition, kept to by Tobermory’s family every year – midnight mass is Not Optional, it is just what you Do when you are here for Christmas. It was uncomfortable and strange. I’ve become unaccustomed to displays of faith, much less displays of a faith I’m unfamiliar with.
I didn’t realise how dependent I was on knowing the words of hymns. Apparently standing up and singing is somehow ingrained in my soul, because it really shook me when I couldn’t sing along. It’s not even that it’s a faith I share, there’s just some … inherent expectation that I will sing along in church. Not knowing the words really upset me, somehow, and I don’t know why. Well, I knew Silent Night and Come, All Ye Faithful, but the other two hymns/carols I didn’t.
I came home and had a very strong rum and coke. I couldn’t think of a better way to deal with the weird, so I drowned it in alcohol.
I’ve enjoyed the trip, I think. We attended a glorious wedding (T’s best man), and it was wonderful. I even convinced my husband to dance with me during the reception, and he wasn’t drunk.
I miss dancing. I didn’t know how much I enjoyed it until I was removed from it for a month. I miss the sense of accomplishment, the sense of pride in my own body. I need to lose some serious weight. Next year’s goal, maybe. Although everyone I know well over here has asked how much weight I’ve lost. Apparently I’ve either lost or relocated some.
The Christmas tree here is two stories tall. The star kisses the ceiling. It’s not exactly subtle. And the pile of gifts is ridiculous and huge. Excepting the inevitable family drama (it’s Christmas after all) tomorrow (today) should be a good day.
I should really sleep. But my husband isn’t in the room yet, and I can’t drop off without his arms around me.
Mum and I sometimes manage to talk about things. Religion, my teenage years, depression. The last time we spoke at any length about those topics, I found out that Mum had absolutely no recollection of what, to me, was a pivotal moment in my teens – the point when I stopped trusting Mum, the point where I stopped confiding in her.
I’d already realised that I wasn’t cut out for her faith. I just couldn’t do it, I wanted other things, I was miserable being forced into the mold young people in the congregation were expected to like, I wanted to be normal. We had an argument, no unusual occurrence for a teenage daughter and menopausal mother, and mid-argument, I finally summoned up the courage to say “but I don’t WANT to be part of the congregation, I don’t WANT to be part of that faith.”
Mum turned around, looked at me, snorted, and said “oh, don’t be silly.”
It was a small moment, really. But I couldn’t believe that she’d called something so IMPORTANT to me silly. I tried to explain a few times, probably failing terribly badly in an overblown emotional teenage fashion, and the moment passed.
From that day forward, I lied to her. I lied about where I was and what I was doing, and who I was doing it with (or to, as the case may be). And I was utterly miserable for, god, I don’t even remember how many years. Teenage blues, yes, but I’ve realised that my stomach problems in uni were stress induced, the varying sleep issues I’ve had over the years are certainly stress-aggravated.