Family reunions are unpredictable. For the most part, I enjoy them. The eating, the catching up, the laughing, and the reminiscing. But, that is on one side of the family. My mother’s side is filled with love and laughter. I truly look forward to every time we get together. But, reunions on my father’s side are avoided like the plague. Instead of love, there is gossip and jealous. There is no laughter, its been replaced with bitterness and judging. I always find reasons not to attend these reunions. But, this weekend was inevitable.
Mom: Son, come stop by this weekend…your relatives are visiting.
I got excited. I knew the regulars would be there. I knew I would eat to my heart’s content. And I knew I would laugh and cry tears of joy.
Me: Of course, we will be there.
Mom: Your Dad’s sisters will be there too.
Me: What? Why?
I questioned my mom about it. You are mixing the happy side with the angry side? The joyful side with the depressing side? My father’s side makes the Kardashians look like the Tanners from the 90s sitcom Full House. I started to imagine the oodles of awkward and silent conversations I would have with them. The eyes filled with judgment.
Mean Aunt: Have you talked to your father?
Mean Aunt: Why not? He IS your father.
Me: You know what you are right. I should ignore the years of verbal and physical abuse. I should ignore the multiple mistresses. I should ignore the years he beat my mom. Yeah, let me call him now. ‘Hey Dad, how ya been? Wanna catch up over hot cocoa and marshmallows?’
But, if I acted like that….I became one of them. I became bitter. I became angry. I couldn’t avoid this.
So I went. I was anxious when I pulled up. I expected the worst…and received the opposite. I walked in and caught eyes with my aunts from my father’s side. The stood up and immediately hugged me. They apologized for what we went through as a family. They were tears of regret….of pain…and finally, of happiness. There was laughter. There were smiles. And most of all, love filled the room. And of course, indigestion from all the food I ate. But, I left there with a new spot in my heart for them. And an anticipation for the next reunion.