Since you all seemed to enjoy hearing about my lovely family so much, I thought you might like to hear the story of the last “mandatory” function I was called upon to attend. It’s been over a year now so I finally have enough perspective on it to be somewhat objective – yea right!
Background: Sometime in 2005 I received an e-mail from older sister (OS) telling me oldest nephew (Groom) had proposed to long time girlfriend (Bride) noting more details to follow – ad infinitum.
In the fall of 05, I get one of my many sinus infections from hell – followed by a couple of rounds of antibiotics that seemed to take care of it. In late October it came back – more antibiotics, repeat in late November, repeat in late December, January, February. I become progressively sicker as my system is being ravaged by constant infections. I have horrible headaches, no energy and have been on and off antibiotics for over 6 months.
Plus OS, who ordinarily doesn’t acknowledge my existence unless she wants something from me, is sending constant e-mails about the July, 06 wedding and all the exciting prep she is helping Bride do. She even called me a couple of times to make sure I WOULD be at the wedding because the photos needed a complete family. (My words – after all how would it look to have a missing aunt? The sky might fall in.) I mentioned my sinus problems but don’t think she heard me.
Finally went to a sinus specialist in April. After a couple of rounds of special and even more powerful antibiotics, he determined I needed surgery. For the record, he did an MRI of my head and I do have a brain – I saw it! He wanted to do the surgery in mid-May but because I couldn’t fly for at least 6 weeks after the surgery and I needed to be photographed in early July – or else – we set the date for the surgery the second week in July.
To complicate things, in early June I started having reactions to the antibiotics and they finally had to take me off them completely. So for almost 3 weeks before the wedding, the infection returned and sapped almost all my energy. Basically I went to work then home to bed and not much else. All the while, OS is e-mailing to make sure I’m not going to shirk my duty and telling me how much she is doing for Bride to help her – MIL from hell in the making.
I fly to city of wedding on Friday and arrive in early afternoon with massive headache but good drugs. (Good Dr. had anticipated problems flying with sinus infection from hell.) Arrive at hotel, check in to my room, go to OS suite and find Mother (who still thinks I’m 17 and a total FU) there with niece. Mother who divorced father in 1966 (count 40 years ago) proceeds to tell me how pissed she is that no one told her Stepmother (Step) was coming to wedding because if she had known she wouldn’t have come and she knows this will make everyone uncomfortable and she’s really upset and just wants to go home – and now SO DO I!
Mother and I do NOT have a good relationship. She can only see my faults and has no problem pointing them out to me even though she hasn’t spent more than about a week total with me in the past 30 years or so. So these are all faults based on how I was 30 – 40 years ago and based on her stellar track record of 2 alienated daughters (Kid and I) and 2 divorces. (Ex-college prof – better at teaching than doing.) At this point I am envying Kid who is not coming to rehearsal dinner that night – in fact not arriving until next afternoon not long before the wedding. Head is pounding – time for more drugs!
ETA: For the first time in my life, instead of allowing my Mother the martyr to manipulate me and draw me into her little trap, I told her she had 2 choices. She could either continue with her crappy attidude and ruin her grandson's wedding, or she could suck it up, keep it to herself and allow everyone to have a good time. I amazed myself!
OS arrives, happy to see I’m “entertaining” Mother and full of wedding chatter. Sees I am sick so assumes I am perfect one to accompany 85 year old Mother to rehearsal dinner. I’m now wondering how often I can take the drugs without ODing, although even that is starting to sound good now. By the way, I’ve been there for about 3 hours now.
Mother goes to take nap and I tell OS about Mother’s concerns about Step. Step was 2nd wife after mother (Dad’s 4th) and had nothing to do with divorce but Mother never got over the divorce 40 years before and still harbors delusions of Dad returning to her even though he died in 2000. (I’m not making this up. Just ask Kid aka Anonymous Sister of Anti-Wife.)
Time passes and we all assemble at rehearsal dinner spot. Mother sits at table with back to Step and never moves from there. Step is really a very nice person and I tell her about Mother’s concerns. She knows Mother and just shakes her head – as we all have at this point – but said she will tread lightly. Her new husband thinks we’re all nuts!
Cousin I haven’t seen in years is there with daughter and I pass time recalling silly times (when we were in single digit ages) with them. Rehearsal dinner mercifully passes quickly and I usher Mother back to hotel where I immediately go to my room, down more drugs and go to bed!
Next morning I get up as late as I think I can get away with (blame 2 hour time difference) and go to OS room. She whisks me off to Starbucks where they take my money and then forget to make my drink. About 30 people get served before me before my aching head realizes what has happened and I question the clerk who is rude but detects from the nasty snarl on my face that perhaps he should just quickly make my latte and get rid of me. Anyway, OS wants to spend a few minutes of quality time with me (about 80% of which she is on her cell phone). All she really wants is to make sure I will handle Mother during the wedding. I’m too sick to argue.
Happily, Kid and her daughter arrive in early afternoon and I feel the life returning to my body for a few moments. All passes quickly as Bride and Groom get dressed, leave for photos and we then head for wedding venue. Wedding is beautiful and dinner spot looks great. No time for Mother to complain so far, but I am seated with her. Lucky me! Dinner goes off fairly peacefully and I decide I’ve had enough. No one really seems to care that I want to leave early.
I use the excuse of shuttle arriving at 6 am to take me to plane taking off at 8. (I’m not that stupid after all) Kid is pissed because she and daughter are staying until later next day and will have to take over my duties as resident whipping post.
I get up to leave and Mother decides she wants to go too. Damn! But, being the dutiful daughter, I take her back to the hotel, take her to her room, say good-by, go to my room, take more drugs, set the alarm AND call the desk for a wake-up call – I’m not missing that damned plane!
5:30 a.m. – I’m up and dressed like a rocket and checked out just as the shuttle arrives to deliver me from hell.
Two weeks later I had surgery and now I breathe well and have no more infections. OS finally realized I had been sick during wedding when I e-mailed all to let them know the surgery went well and I was on the mend. “Oh, that’s why you were so quiet.” If that’s what she wants to think – so be it.
And just as an aside, during the holidays when I e-mailed OS and Kid and mentioned I was writing about how having cancer had changed my life, OS e-mailed back, “When did you have cancer?” Now normally this wouldn’t be so unbelievable, but she came to visit me in the hospital both times I had surgery for my cancer.
Kind of gives new meaning to the term “invisible”, don’t you think?