La Famiglia

As I am sitting in the living room of my friend’s family’s country house, three generations milling about, it occurs to me that not only the children no longer repulse me but that I am also not against the idea of having any myself. I am also very relaxed. That could also be post-hike wine.
The point is that I am witnessing something that is mystifying to yours truly: a happy, unbroken, non-disfunctional large family. How do those happen? How do I get one of those? In my case, the only way to make it happen is to start my own. I really thought my ex was *the* chance for that to come together. On the drive here my friend and I were listening to an episode of the WTF podcast. Nick Lowe was being interviewed by Marc Maron. Towards the end of the interview, Nick Lowe sung his new track which sparked a flashback to a trip I took with the ex. I could literally feel her fingers on my face.
If nothing else, all this is pushing me to get better so that I too could have a chance at the “happy ever after”.

Day 56. Weekly Writing Challenge: DNA Analysis.

Between all of the quirks of my family members I am a genetic minefield. Especially when it comes to my parents. It seems that I have inherited their worst qualities.

Let’s start with my mother. She is a woman who gave me everything and sacrificed so much to give me a better life. She can also be batshit insane sometimes. My parents divorced when I was 2-3 years of age and my mother had to be both the mother and “the man” in the family since my father was absent for most of my childhood. He did not disappear, he just was not there. She had to become more of a disciplinarian than a nurturer. That became even more so when my ADHD really kicked in full force. Except no one knew what it was and just assumed that I was not paying attention. If only I chose to pay attention everything would have been much better! As a result, our relationship is rather complicated and I suppose I might still be harbouring some resentment.
My mother is incredibly shy and uneasy around people she does not know well. She can be a bit of a loner at times. She has very few close friends. There is quite a bit of the victim complex in her personality. Check, check, and check! Got all those traits. Not her super-analytical mind, nor her enormous ability to concentrate. Not even her amazing cooking skills! Nope: misery and self-blame were my genetic inheritance. Of course, her life was certainly not a happy one. Her marriage to my father was an unqualified disaster, not the least because my pater familias is a compulsive liar or womaniser.

Speaking of which, here is my father: brilliant mind with no self-discipline. Like him, I am the king of instant gratification. Like him, I am always running late. His father (my paternal grandfather) was no picnic either. Brash, selfish, and completely full of himself, he was quite a character. And he brought up his first-born to be just as brash and as selfish and with a circus-like ability to blow smoke up his own and everyone else’s ass. My father is incredibly multi-talented: engineer, chemist, musician, artist, public speak, athlete, teacher… But all that potential remained for most part just that: a potential. I am not an cretin either. I have a high IQ, I am good with my hands and can fix pretty much anything. If I manage to concentrate on it now enough. Alas, it would seem that instead of inheriting my father’s easy brilliance, his musical talent, his ease with people and ability to easily talk to anyone and make them feel like a best friend within a few minutes, I got his gift for avoiding what needs to be done, his perpetual tardiness, his short attention span, and his hairy skin and male-pattern boldness.
I do not really know all that much about my paternal grandparents so that shall have to remain a mystery.

Growing up, I had spent a considerable amount of time with my maternal grandparents since we lived right near them, and later with them, right until my mother moved to the civilised world with me. My mother’s mother has passed most of her craziness to my mother along with mDNA. I did not get her particular brand of crazy, nor did I get her academic and professional brilliance, not her fantastic memory and writing skills, not even her spectacular culinary skills that dwarfed even those of my mother.

And finally my grandfather. The saint of a man, he was not the fastest thinking person. He did not have the easy brilliance of other family members who saw things clearly right away. Like him, I really need to examine and think about issues before I can intelligently discuss them. He was a poor student though, unlike yours truly, he actually managed to complete his higher education with distinction rather than not at all. He never threw anything out and useless crap would pile up and clatter up the storage area. One day I found I set of a cord and I was playing with it. I was quite young but I distinctly remember him freaking out and taking the “cord” away from me. Turns out it was an explosives cord used in film special effects (my grandfather’s profession) and to take down large trees. He was also a man who, despite his 40+ year marriage to my grandmother, was notoriously unlucky with women to the point of rivaling me in that department. His first wife (whom he never forgot and whose photo he kept in his desk – second shelf from the top, in the left-hand side column, underneath his professional commendations and work documents – his entire life) died in childbirth along with the baby. His second wife sent him divorce papers while he, a lowly machine gunner corporal, was lying in a hospital, somewhere between life and death, clutching to reality after being shot up so badly he never fully recovered. And then he met my grandmother, whom he adored and lived with for over 40 years until his death. Except like her sister, my grandmother was completely disinterested in sex. Those would have been very long 40 years but luckily for him, my grandfather was a good looking gent. Like myself, my grandfather could never say no to anyone. Unlike myself, women were always running after him.

They say “if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” My family members seem to have gotten the genetic lemons and I am the lemonade they made. The distilled, concentrated goodness of genetic disappointment. Bottoms up!

Day 32. Granpa.

Hey Gramps. Long time so see. It has been almost exactly 19 years since you have transcended this physical existence; since you died.

Though by now I cannot even recall the sound of your voice, you are on mind quite often. Almost every day something reminds me that you are not around. I can only imagine how much fun you would be having with the phones, iPods, and digital cameras. Can you imagine: all the music that you could ever want right at your fingertips or taking a photo and looking at the result immediately? It is like having a personal music collection and photography studio with you at all times!

I wish do you could be around. I certainly would benefit from your guidance, and your wisdom, and your serenity these days. Although it is true you have always maintained that “like cures like” but it has not been working for me well.

You were an unusual man. Not in the weird of-the-wall way kind of way, not at all. You were, however, unequivocally different in the way of naturally relating to the world and the people around. You have never had any enemies. No one has ever wished you ill in any sort of personal way. But the strangest thing about you would have to be an earnest, perhaps even to the point of being naive, sense of empathy. I wonder if I could have been a better, happier person had I possessed these qualities. Would I have been better at dealing with the world? Would I have been happy? Would my girlfriend still have broken up with me?

I have had to make peace with a lot of things in my life. I just wish you not being here hadn’t been one of them.