My Family

I’m staying with my mum and her husband right now, for my one week of vacation. It took me 9 hours to drive here, and I made it without caffeine and with making only one stop. It was actually a beautiful drive. Getting out of the city to the countryside is quite lovely. Now I see why people visit national parks. I’m using the last five days of my paid time off before those days expire next month. I think I would like to take a week off again sometime this year, even if it’s unpaid leave from work. These sound like the words of a non-depressed person, don’t they?

My mum is very glad that I’m visiting. She’s happy to see me. She cooks me meals, dotes on me, wakes me up at 10 in the morning, my preferred waking time for vacation. I’ve been sleeping 12 hours every night since Friday. Pretty typical for my weekends, actually.

Yesterday my brother made dinner at my grandfather’s house. He went over in the early afternoon to start cooking. Dinner was salad, bread, lasagna. He made a small, vegetarian lasagna just for me, and kept the cooking utensils separate from the meat. He’s so sweet and thoughtful. He made the whole wheat bread loaf from scratch, as well as the lasagna sauces, the bechamel sauce, the salad dressings. Everything was from scratch. He is such a good cook. Gourmet too. My grandfather said it was the best lasagna that he’s had in the last 10 – 15 years. He’s 82, so he does have bragging rights as to the best lasagna’s that he has enjoyed over the course of his life.

The best part was when I hugged my brother, and he put his arm around me, and I told him I loved him, and he said, “I love you too.” That was the best feeling. My mum and I have been sharing brief conversations in the kitchen. I’m seated at the table and she is always standing. We talk about how difficult it was for her living in foreign countries working full time and taking care of two children by herself. We’re going to go for a walk later today, just she and I, at a lovely park which is just a short drive away.

She’s also been filling me in on the family problems and disputes and also about the difficulties of her own life. Her husband gets upset very easily and has anger issues. I’m sure it’s something that could be fixed with psychotherapy and possibly medication, but he’s never been to see a therapist and probably never will. My mum hoards things and hasn’t thrown anything away since my father died in 1987. Well, that’s not entirely true. Over the years she has slowly been going through things and cleaning up and getting rid of things, but she and her husband have a four car garage that is just full of stuff, along with the interior of the rest of the house. The upright piano hasn’t been tuned or used for over 10 years and it just sits there collecting dust and serves as a vehicle for storing stuff on its’ surface. I think my mum could benefit from seeing a psychotherapist but I don’t know if she would be willing to or if I could convince her, and she cannot afford it anyway. I would be willing to pay for her to go.

My grandmother is dead and my grandfather knows that he’s going to go soon too. My mum says that he keeps delaying finishing his will, and that he established a trust but there’s no money in it, and he’s telling his eldest daughter, my mum, that it’s her job to fund it, but she makes less than $1,000 per month and that’s not nearly enough to live off of in the big city where she lives. My mum’s next younger sibling is my uncle and his wife. They want to have nothing to do with my mum’s husband because they don’t like him and because he kicked me and my brother out of his home multiple times. At one point my brother was even living on the street out of his car because he had nowhere to go, and relations were strained with all of the family members so no one was willing to take him in. The next sibling is my aunt, who lives with her dad, my grandfather. She is prodigal in her ability to compose the most amazing songs on the piano. But she has severe scoliosis and is overweight and has pigmentation abnormalities on her skin that make her very unattractive. She also has mental illness and takes psychotropic medication. She will never be able to provide for herself, never will be able to have a husband, and that is what the unfunded trust is for that my grandfather created, so that when he dies, she will somehow be taken care of. My mum’s second sibling, my uncle, is very rich because he is a doctor, but is unwilling to help anyone but his own children. He is also very narcissistic. Then there’s the youngest sibling, another uncle, and he lives on the other side of the country. He’s a teacher and will not change professions and will never be able to make enough money to afford living where the rest of his family lives. This is a very expensive neighbourhood. He sides with his brother on every family dispute.

My grandfather wants my mother to divorce her husband and my mother thinks that her youngest sibling’s marriage isn’t going to last. He has a 3-year-old child, my youngest cousin. My brother seems to be doing okay, despite all of the difficulties in the external family. My mum’s husband constantly threatens to leave her and move to the Midwest where things are cheaper, cost of living, and the ideology is more republican and much less democratic. He is a republican in a sea of democrats. He hates his job and constantly threatens to quit.

I worry about my mum and her life, and how she’s going to manage if her husband moves away or quits his job or divorces her. She may have already separated from him had it not been for the fact that she is financially dependent on him. He provides for the two of them. She said it’s not much of a marriage and that all he cares about is money. That’s the substance of the relationship, is money. He’s trying to get her to learn programming because he is a computer programmer, and she just doesn’t get it, but he keeps pushing her, and so she keeps trying, all in an effort to please, or rather, appease, him. I also don’t understand how he can manage to live in my mum’s mess, because the hoarding seems to be all her doing. But things just collect and there are piles on the table and piles on every surface of the home, including the floors. There are small pathways to walk throughout the home.

My brother just recently bought a home and he and his partner have discussed taking my mum in and letting her live there, if need be. All of her stuff would go into storage and it would cost thousands of dollars a year to store her accumulated belongings. I’m so glad I no longer have a storage unit, and that I gave away so much stuff to Goodwill in order to be able to fit my life into my small apartment. It feels good to have less stuff.

I’m supposed to be studying but I am disillusioned after having taken my GRE diagnostic exam. I passed the verbal section by getting a 76%. But for math, I am in the 3% percentile. Not 30, it’s a 3. Meaning I only got a handful of questions right. Math used to make sense to me when I was in school but it no longer does, and I’ve forgotten all of the rules and formulas. I only have 2 months to study and I’m afraid my score is not going to improve by much. This means I probably won’t get into my school of choice. It is rather disappointing.

I have a week left of staying here. I won’t have to go to work during the week which is nice. My mum doesn’t have air conditioning and it gets very hot in the house. They have fans to circulate the warm air. I won’t get to see my therapist this week as I am out of town and I am not doing so poorly that I need a video internet chat session. I am going to be okay. It’s good for me that I am reconnecting with my family. I don’t do this very often.

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