First off, I must admit, I am in Kentucky right now and the bourbon is good. And I sampled a few.
Now that we have that out in the open, I’d like to talk about family, but, no, not in a drunk, “I LOVE YOU, FAMILY PERSON” sort of way. But in a reflective family is a messy, weird, convoluted, twisted, loving, circular, unavoidable thing sort of way.
My immediate family was fucked up, abusive and dysfunctional. That dysfunction was like the eye of a hurricane for all the extended family outside of us too. I don’t think I am being egocentric when I say my father’s abuse had far reaching affects beyond our home.
He was not on speaking terms with his older sister, my aunt, during most of my childhood and adolescence. At various times, his younger brothers, my uncles, lived near us in Colorado. But the mercurial nature of my dad’s moods meant they were intermittently part of our life.
The result, my brother, sister and I didn’t really know our cousins. We knew names. We knew stories. We saw each other on odd occasions. Maybe cousinly relationships seemed more ‘off’ than ‘on’ to me because I was a cousin in an in-between age. My auntie had kids more than a decade older than me. Her youngest was two years older than my 6-year older brother. The cousins from my father’s younger brothers were 4-6 years younger than than me, closer to my sister’s age. My father would proclaim he wasn’t speaking to his brothers or sister, but I have a feeling, they preferred he didn’t show up and muck up their lives.
My dad was that relative who shows up for a family gathering that you know is going to bring the drama. And he brought it in ugly, terrifying ways.
I have a memory of a Thanksgiving holiday, except the memory is mostly about how the celebration went south when my dad lost his shit. My brother, sister and I were holed up with our cousins in my brother’s room. My dad was threatening his brothers with a rifle or shotgun or something. Another holiday, my dad was unhappy with the condiment selection and after offering alternatives and searching out open stores, he stopped the car, threw a fit and walked off with the keys leaving my mom and three kids stranded and family waiting at home. That was par for the course and something that we knew wasn’t normal, but it was our normal.
Wow, that was a lot of baggage and dirty laundry to unload before I got to the wonderful part. And I could go on, but you get the picture.
Now that all us cousins are adults, we are rediscovering each other. Maybe I should say, I am rediscovering them. Admittedly, if not for social media, this rediscovery may not have happened. I am eternally grateful for all my family coming my mother’s funeral to make the day a wonderful celebration of her life. Cousins, uncles and aunties who I hadn’t seen in years (or possibly ever for a few) showed up and we celebrated as if we all grew up together. Not missing a beat. If you missed it, here was my to opus on being a Ceridon.
So, this brings me to this moment. Earlier, I laid over in Aurora, Colorado and stayed with a cousin and her kids. Then, I laid over in Pacific, Missouri near St. Louis. I stayed with another cousin I’ve barely known throughout my life. I met her daughter and granddaughter, two cousins I’ve never know. We spent Labor Day with her sister, yet another cousin. That’s all of us there. Family.
Despite the messy, weird, convoluted, and twisted path we took to get here, somehow we’ve circled back to each other and that’s the wonderful part.
Side note: the photo of my ride in front of my cousin’s house. I was so fortunate to get to stay there.
Happy cooking and familying.