Sunday, March 05, 2006

Fearsome Foursome Redux

I am re-running this post because my uncle, featured here, is ill and having surgery on Monday. He's 82 now, mostly blind, but still a spunky guy. Thought this would be a good time to post this story again.

two_couples, originally uploaded by panthergirl.

Like the Kramdens and the Nortons, or the Flintstones and the Rubbles, my parents and my Aunt Ginny and Uncle Shon were inseparable. And like those timeless couples, the love was expressed in some interesting ways.

My aunt and my mother are sisters, but my dad and my uncle formed the closer bond. As the kids played in the next room, the four of them would play Pinochle and yell and scream at each other as though millions were on the line. "What the hell are ya doin'?" "You don't know what the hell's what!" "Goddamit, Marge!" "Whaddya, stupid??"

While my mother followed tradition and married an Italian, my aunt broke free and brought a Welshman into the family. This was fortunate, since it made the men even LOOK like Ralph and Norton, or Fred and Barney.

We always envied our cousins because their parents were so supportive and loving (ok, my aunt DID throw a Brillo box at one of her sons once). My uncle enjoyed taking his kids places, participating in sports with them and displaying their trophies. In our house, the only trophies belonged to my parents: Bowling trophies which sat [not kidding here] on a shelf over their bed. Hey, whatever turns you on.

Of the four sisters, my Aunt Ginny is the most real, the warmest, and most inclined to tell the truth about the family. It was she who told us that my mother wielded control and power at six years old because she had to translate for my grandparents who spoke no English.

She also told us that my grandmother's philosophy of childrearing included the concept, "Never kiss your children when they are awake." These little revelations have helped me put together some of the jigsaw puzzle that is my mother's psyche.

My uncle is 82 now. He was crushed when my dad died...they were as thick as thieves. But he and my aunt, although both struggling with health issues, continue to be warm and upbeat and sometimes hilarious.

At a recent family function, I sat and talked to him for awhile. He's virtually blind but still plays golf, with the help of a good friend who positions him over the tee. What cracked me up, though, was when he described a 90 year old woman in their apartment complex as having "A.Z." Senior citizen lingo for Alzheimer's!

If you look REALLY closely at this photo you'll see me... that's a white maternity dress my mother is wearing. ;)