In lieu of 60th birthday bashes, Bro 2 and Aunty's oldest daughter have organised a family day of sorts. Those last seeds of the great Ballyfin diaspora still in touch with each other are gathering to gasbag and chinwag.
Cuz number 4,444,445 [stepfather to JJ] and his wife [JJ's mum] are having a wedding anniversary the same day.
JJ is looking forward to meeting more family. Aunty is looking forward to catching up with some nieces and nephews. TO has never met a person she did not like. I have been praying for a dose of measles.
Our memories are fragile things. They are puzzles built of squares, each part interchangeable and too easily reassembled into a distorted picture each time we take them out to review and reinterpret them. Our dreams and nightmares, too, are stored the same way, their parts easily confused with the pieces of our memories. Thus do our personal truths shift and morph over time.
The night before my mother's funeral Aunty was with TO and me. Out of deference to Aunty, brothers and spouses congregated in our small room at the motel rather than invite us to one of theirs.
I hid in the tiny alcove where the kettle and ersatz coffee were supplied, while Bro 2 filled what I had wished would be silence with truths in search of confirmation.
Yesterday, upon the stair
I met a man who wasn't there;
He wasn't there again today –
I wish that man would go away.
The older we get the more we are touched by each death that comes our way. Aunty was exhausted and, I suspect, trying not to relive the accumulating losses of parents, siblings, the man who had made her life so special for so long, the friends who had always been there for her.
I'm still thoroughly ticked off with Bro 1 over several things and had to move my warning sign, the mantra that helps me stay real, to a more prominent place at the top of my pc screen.
I am not my mother. I can forgive anything. It's not healthy to lock absolution in a box and throw away the key, because occasionally I need to take a little for myself.
They are all good and decent people in their own way, but that doesn't mean I have to socialise with them all, does it? Not if socialising means I have to deal with more of that confirm my truth crap?
I've revisited Crimes of the Heart, one of my desert island movies, and felt a sick moment when Jessica Lange said, in a tired of it all exasperated voice "Oh no! You're still going on about those stupid golden jingle bells?
If not the measles, perhaps a packet of Picolax?