E-

Well, the weekend is over. Cross-country flights complete and the tragic-comedy of the funeral and family is over. I think I was pretty amazed by the way the event just absolutely brought out all the various family directly and absolutely. It was as if every bit of tension and unease over the last few decades was on display both in my immediate family and in the extended family as a whole. In a word, Oh vey. Well two words really.

So what’s left to say? What is the “takeaway” as one might say in the professional world, how were our “deliverables” delivered and our work frames framed? Well a few important lessons

  1. Shrimp must always be served on shaved ice. It is impossible to buy shaved ice commercially, you can only make it or get it from someone with a machine so… if a family member becomes sick or dies- immediately knock over a Hawaiian ice stand so you can have shaved ice to serve the shrimp on at the reception
  2. Since all the family tension will be on full display rather than just count “elephants in the room” it is more fun to make a family tension/dynamic bingo card and play family tension bingo. Inside the five by five framework (with a free square in the middle) arrange all the family stories, resentment, bitterness, inside jokes , worries, elephants that are likely to crop up. The first one to connect five in a row wins. This game can also be played by assigning point values to the awkwardness but for some reason the bingo card seems more umm.. interactive.
  3. Back to shrimp… vinegar gets rid of shrimpy scented hands

Again, I would have to say how incredibly proud I am of my m-u  with the grace and class she pulled off her speech, making the arrangements and wrangling her family. The weekend was a little too busy to really understand how she was doing. Grief can wait when there are picnics to prepare and house guests to house.

On a personal level, my goal is to feel good enough about my life by Christmas to not feel so put upon with ever interaction with M. Or at least come up with a decent coping mechanism for dealing with her every judgment laden comment.  Maybe I need my own Bingo card for that game….

There is much more to say about GS and her life and legacy but that might be for another time..

Good night,

B

Dear B,

What insight you have gained–there’s nothing like death to bring out the best and the worst in people. I love your Elephant Bingo idea! Make a note to contact Milton-Bradley. Sounds like you’d have to play multiple cards, though. And who knew about the shrimp/shaved ice rule!?! No more faux pas for us.

Did anyone tape the memorial service? I would love to hear V’s speech–it sounds like she did SO well. I’m very proud of the work she did while she was here–getting clear on some things she needed to let go of in order to heal some of the wounds from her family. You are right,there’s plenty of time for grief after the crowds go home. I just hope she will allow herself that sad space.

Part of being your full self is having the confidence to express your thoughts and feelings. You have such good strong thoughts about how V handled everything–I hope you will find a time to express those to her directly. Don’t depend on M or me to tell her for you. Remember all those good words you would like to have heard at difficult times in your life. You can learn how to be by seeing how not to be. Sometimes our greatest teachers are the ones who show us how not to be. In a number of ways, that is the gift GS gave V. I’d be interested in knowing what GS gave you.

It is a time to be reminded that all things have endings. Putting that darling dog down, saying goodbye to J, watching the grass die and the harvest coming on–death and rebirth always around us whether we notice or not. And as you experienced, great sadness and joy can coexist. Strange, this life we’re in.

Love,

Auntie E

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