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January 19, 2009 / allyo

At my grandma’s funeral mass last Friday, images from my childhood flashed before my eyes. There were of sunshine and backyard picnics, cousins running through her house and teaming up to face her wicked, wicked cat. They were of warmth, love, and safety.

My childhood wore two faces. There was privilege. Not excess, just comfortable, middle class living. There was love and affection and physical security. And there was loss, abandonment, and feeling unsafe. Never fitting in. Except when I was with my dad’s family. There, I felt safe. Safety that came from my not just my dad but his sisters, my aunts. And from my grandma. When we were all together I was protected by sheer numbers and tradition. These formed a shield that could never be penetrated. Once, my mom called there, to my grandparents’ house. My dad was angry. How dare she intrude? How dare she? And from then on I knew there was a place where she couldn’t touch me.

We had grandma o’s funeral at the church that my family helped build – figuratively at least. The original church is now a small party house around the corner. This church is modern and grand, and every grand has had their funeral mass there. All the great uncles and aunts, and my grandpa o. My grandma o wanted to have her service at the cemetary chapel but for several reasons, my dad and my siblings decided to have it at the church. Even knowing these were my grandmother’s wishes, the thought of upsetting the tradition was unsettling. Now that she is gone, will the family fall apart? My aunts have vowed no, and as long as they are living my cousins and I will come to every birthday and holiday celebration. Hopefully, that will mean decades more of strength in numbers. By the time my dad and my aunts leave us I hope that my brother and sister have, um, gotten their acts together and created families of their own. In the meantime, I remain thankful that I am blessed with what remains of this family of mine. And I know that even if Jamie doesn’t have half a dozen cousins to grow up with, we are also blessed with the best friends any family could hope for.

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  1. LittleWit / Jan 19 2009 8:22 pm

    When I went to my great aunt’s funeral in October it was mentioned that it was on myself and my cousin H to provide a more joyous occasion for the family to get together. 😉 I voted for a planned family reunion. This is the year where I am trying to stop making excuses and just get off my dupa to visit my rather large extended family. 🙂

  2. mystikmomma / Jan 20 2009 9:42 pm

    hmmm, after having spent time with extended family, I have had another experience that what you speak of. I too enjoy that safety net of large Italian Family with traditions that span decades. But with the each generation of deterioration…. the family that I grew up with is no longer present in the younger faces. I am feeling as if I just don’t want to return anymore. UGH, is all I have to say. But I agree we will make our family tree strong for what we had as children and funny how we both has our safety net.

    Hugs cara mia

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