Enough Blame to go Around

When I was a little kid , I was heavily influenced by  TV.  Especially  Donna Reed, Father Knows Best,  and Leave it to Beaver.  I knew moms stayed home and dads went to work—like my folks did, but I thought the parents on TV were nicer than my parents.   They seemed much less….frazzled.

The fact is, my mother really had too much time on her hands. She went shopping, to the beauty salon, and played mah jongg.  She only spent time with her kids when there was no other alternative.  I didn’t realize this at the time,but I do now.  My father was not engaged at all. He left for work at 4 a.m. to open up the  plant for trucks. He claimed he could not trust anyone else to do it.  I actually think he set a good example for his employees, but we  rarely saw my father when he was awake.

As my mother said, Jewish men don’t fool around, and before I was 12, I  only knew 1 kid with divorced parents. The rest were in traditional  2 parent households.

I have 3 siblings, and we  were never close (even though we are  all only 2 years apart in age—I am just  seven years older than my youngest sister).  My parents were baffled by this, but my mother was actually psychologically abusive. She either didn’t engage with  us,  or was  just  helping us with school work, or  criticizing. That’s what I remember. Rarely did she compliment or encourage.

They were horrified when I decided  not to go to college,  and horrified that I wanted to groom dogs.  I think they were relieved that my  ex-husband took an interest in me, but dismayed he wasn’t Jewish.  I think my mother is rolling in her grave now that our middle sister, Sharyn, has been married  three times (never to a Jew—& in fact, now, to a pseudo Christian with  conspiracy theories about Zionism), and we other  three never had kids—as well as  one cousin marrying Hispanic, & the other, married for over 20 years now, to a Black American.  Plus, another plus a grand cousin married to a Black guy, the irony is…they all raised their kids Jewish. So much for theories.

I wonder how she feels about her son, the excon drug addict with  a terminal degree. As my uncles  joked, my father believed in higher education.  If we all could have only acknowledge mental illness is not a moral failing, but a mystery that is difficult to deal with.

Hey, I admit it. When I was very young— just after I learned to read, I realized I suffered from depression. It was probably stress, but it was only about 10 years ago that I realized (from reading Temple Grandin) and going to Wrong Planet that I have Asperger’s Syndrome.   Yes, friends. That is why I am so wierd.  But I’ve managed to stay off the dole and make a living—not be a burden to society.

I am writing about this now because my niece has announced the date of my grand niece’s Quinceanera.  No ‘Sweet Sixteen’ for  us (we sisters never had this—to my mother’s real disappointment…nor were there Bat or Bar Mitzvahs).  My guy reaction was of bemused irony.  We’re Jewish….but ah, no, Sharyn did not raise Lauren as a Jew.  I think she married Lutheran, and her husband is part Hispanic, and they live in a very mixed Hispanic community.  &  no matter what you say, Lauren, my niece, has learned from all her  mother’s and aunts and uncles bad examples and done ok for herself, more than OK.

So….all us siblings are invited, and Scott & I are not speaking, and Randi and Sharyn are not speaking ans Sharyn and her daughter, Laruen, the  Quinceanera’s mother,are not speaking..  I just assume we can all get along and not make a scene for a party.   This should be interesting…..


So here’s how this all  went down:

The Quinciniera was held at a banquet hall, and my niece arranged a lovely affair.  As i explained to my Japanese roommate, ,a coming-of-age ceremony is a big deal in  lots of cultures.  This is  supposed to be a statement that the honoree is now an adult (though of course, she is not. When you start paying your own living expenses, you are an adult), but it is also an opportunity to throw a big party for your friends and family.  This was an ostentatious display of wealth:  the room, the meal, the open bar, the M & M’s custom designed (and cookies as well),  a slide show of <aya’s life to that poijnt tt went on  a bit too long…. photographer, MC… everything.

Lauren had  requested  we dress in black & white, and  although I had gotten a lovely outfit (because I had misinterpreted the  instructions as  black tie formal),  I found a black skirt and a white shirt, and everyone complied. Only Maya, the Quinceanera, was dressed in a lovely turquoise ball style gown.  Her court  was  four boys in  sharp suits, and the girls were in white satin dresses.

I was told my brother never  RSVP’d, but he showed up there anyways.    He didn’t talk to me.  My sisters were cordial to each other and were able to maintain small talk. My father and step mother  flew in from Florida, and  that night a storm started and they could not get back to Florida for  3 days.  We were at a table with my nephew and his girlfriend, who left  even before dinner, ans  Lauren’s cousins on her father'[s side of the family.  This  was why the event was  so large:  Lauren’s father, Bill was 1 of  five brothers, and they all had kids.   Her husband also has quite a few cousins.

The notable absense, I think, was the  stepsister her fathe had ‘sired’ befor he and Lauren got married.  Sh had become part of the family and was suddenly gone.  Whatever.



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