Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Grandma's Last Gift

I wasn't sure what to expect from Christmas Eve this year, as it would be the first without Grandma Mary.  We had all pretty much predicted that the family would fall apart when she died.  And it did.  To an extent.  Grandma's last gift to us was to bridge the distance between my dad and my uncle.  They are closer now than they have ever been.  I have to hand it to my dad.  I had little to no respect for the man.  He'd done nothing to earn any of my respect.  He was a narcissistic asshole who made promises he never kept and used people more than he ever helped them.

And then Grandma had her stroke.  We knew that my cousins who had been living off with her for years would not be able to take care of her.  After all, they're the ones who allowed her to stroke for three days before my other cousin and his wife visited and insisted they take Grandma to the hospital.  So the option of her going home to them after her stroke, well, wasn't an option.

Dad stepped up to the plate.  He moved in and cared for her 24/7.  He did an amazing job.  She was more active in the months after her stroke than in the years before.  They went gambling, they went to bingo, they went to dinner.  Dad seriously flourished in his role as a care-giver.  For the first time in 25 years he had purpose in life.

Uncle DeVito, my dad's older brother, went to work fixing up Grandma's house to make it wheelchair accessible and safe for her.

Together, the two of them worked side-by-side day in and day out toward one common goal.  To take care of the woman we all loved.  My heart is so happy to see the new bridge built between Dad and Uncle DeVito.  Thank you, Grandma Mary.

Sadly, my aunt didn't participate.  She retreated and pouted and pointed fingers, but she didn't help.  That's where the family fell apart.  We attempted to reach out to her, but she chose to be the victim in the situation and took her sons and their families with her.  My heart is a little sad over that, but it wasn't at all unexpected.

It was with some trepidation that I approached Christmas Eve.  We'd done Christmas Eve at Grandma's house for my entire life.  There was no question that we'd continue celebrating as a family at her house, but I wasn't sure what to expect.

It was AMAZING!  With my aunt and "her" family choosing to do their own thing and not join us, the stress level was non-existent.  I hadn't realized how much tippy-toeing around we did when my aunt's family was around.  We all contributed to a potluck dinner and spent the evening enjoying each other's company (and a margarita or four).  I can't say that I missed Grandma because she was there.  The love she gave each and every one of us shone that night.

Dad and Uncle DeVito

Digger, RCC, Ashinator, Monster and me

My brother, Junior, and RCC.  And I have no idea what they were doing.  They were the stone-cold sober ones.

Me and Nebalee (1st margarita)

Asset, Nebalee, Kyzzer, Mr. Nebalee, Auto Bot

With Digger.  Yes, I know the picture's tilted.  So was I (marg #3-ish)

With Monster and Ashinator.  Yes, I know the picture's blurry.  So was I (marg #4-ish)

I'm not sure how I managed to miss getting pics of most of my family.  Junior, Nonners, Chris, Uncle DeVito - I'm sorry.  I'm blaming the margaritas for the omission.
I hope everyone had as great a time as I did.  Love you all.


Rachel said...

Glad for the bridges that your grandma created.

Ironically, this was the first Christmas Eve I didn't spend at my grandmother's (through no fault of my own) - and it seemed "off". But with the omission of certain extended family members, we certainly lost a bunch of stress too, so I know we both felt that same relief!

Glad you had a wonderful time!

Aunt Crazy said...

I'm so happy y'all had a good time and enjoyed each other's company and feeling your grandmother's spirit within each of you is awesome!

K. Erickson said...

You know, there is something to be said for bringing alcohol to family gatherings.

GunDiva said...

K, there is something to that. But the booze at Christmas Eve isn't anything new. CELEBRATORY booze is kind of a new concept instead of OH GOD, I NEED AN ESCAPE booze, which has been the booze of the past.

Much prefer the celebratory stuff myself.

Stephanie said...

I love it when things workout like that. I very happy for your happy Christmas...

Stephanie said...

"I'm very happy" sigh...

Mrs Mom said...

OH! Magaritaville!!! (Hey I never did get one when we were out there.. lol -- though it sounds like you had one (or three) for me over Christmas!)

Gramma Mary may not be right where you can grab her and hug her, but you know darn well she was there raising a glass with you guys.

And I love the fuzzy tilted pix ;)

Sara said...

So glad everyone was able to do Christmas right.

Is your uncle's last name really DeVito? Does he have a cool nickname, like The Butcher, or Tightlips?

GunDiva said...

No, he got the DeVito moniker for the blog because he was once mistaken for Danny DeVito in Las Vegas :)