It’s been roughly six years since I’ve been to a real family get together. I’ve been going to see my boyfriend’s family since we got into our own apartment and all of my family moved out of state. I’ve gone to visit of course, but there wasn’t much time to sit down and actually have a get together. And with my dad’s (ex) wife running most of the show, we couldn’t all gather at my grandparents like I was used to. It was always us all going to my dad’s (ex) wife’s parents house because they lived in this very beautiful house, too big for just two old people to be living in alone. I mean, there is a cat hidden somewhere in the house, but they hardly ever know where the damn thing is anyway. So each time I visited, if we went to my grandparents house it was just for a chat. No full blown family get together complete with potato salad and something grilled. (And dessert, always dessert.)
So today is my grandmother’s birthday. She’s the ripe old age of 63, but she acts 23 and I hope she lives to be 103. I love her with all my heart and I’ve missed being at her house for the holidays and for visits. She’s traveled the world, lived in Guam, The Philippines, Germany and many US States while my grandfather was in the air force. She’s an open mind and a very intelligent person (and beautiful.) I jumped at the idea of throwing her a surprise party. So grandpa calls me yesterday asking what I’ll be doing and of course I’m free and so is my dad. So we go over early, while grampa has gramma out for a mid day movie, and we clear off the dining room table and decorate while we wait for Aunt Kathe (technically my great aunt) to come over with her husband and the food. She brings the most adorable cake (which turns out to have a delicious middle of raspberry jam) and we get to setting up the charcoal grill for the food. We all have a grand ol’ time cleaning up and doing the dishes and preparing the house for this party while the grandparents are out.
Of course gramma realizes something’s up when they pull up and the garage is open and the grill is smoking (while it’s raining) and she gets out of the truck with a smile on her face. She’s wearing a beautiful (hippie style) blue and purple shirt with wing sleeves and a skirt. She’s beautiful. She comes around and gives us all hugs and kisses and thanks us all probably a million times before she goes inside and settles down on the couch to wait for dinner (which doesn’t take too long.) We go into the dining room and we chow down, poking fun at each other and telling stories and what not. I’m sure this part isn’t that different than most families, and yet this is the part I was craving. Having been going to my boyfriend’s family’s get togethers, each and every time I got sadder and sadder. Each and every time I began to realize what was so fake about it. We didn’t have this time where we all made each other feel better and loved. We didn’t really share that many laughs. It was always poking fun at one specific person (I’m sure they don’t mean it to be totally mean) and making them feel worse. It’s bitching and complaining about life. Not the good stuff. And I also missed the food. His family isn’t the best when it comes to food (though they do have a few dishes that are good) but since my family loves to cook and his mom can’t stand to cook, the difference is clearly laid out on the table. I’ve craved the love. I’ve craved the companionship and understanding.
I know my boyfriend misses his family dearly and I can’t blame him. It’s all he’s ever known, and I get that, but what I want him to see is that there is so much love to receive from my family. So much that even when we don’t see eye to eye I can over look that and keep on loving them. I can respect them enough to not want to hurt their feelings, which is rather unlike me.
I’ve missed my family, and I’m happy my grandmother got to enjoy it, but what she might never know is I may have enjoyed her 63rd birthday more than she will ever know. There’s something about family that you can’t bottle up and send in a package. There’s something about family that nobody else can ever give you, and as a child I never could see this. As an adult, I see it and I crave it. Even with the sore throat (and swollen tonsils) and the downpour of rain, today was exactly what I needed. I will be forever grateful for my grandparents, and I only hope that they can see how much I love them.
I hope that you feel the love from your family today and every day, and if for some reason you don’t, I hope you feel my love. My family was never perfect and there was a point in my life that I would never feel so happy around them, but things can change, and regardless of the broken ties in a family, there will always be love.