Thursday, December 19, 2013

Making the Worst of a Bad Situation

Seven-year-old me (in brown--why did my mother have (or let) me wear this too-short dress?), with my father's family at a wedding.
The groom in the wheelchair is my father's brother: he fell down the steps during his wedding rehearsal and broke both ankles.
That's my father behind me; my mother & sister are on my left; 
in the light-blue dress is my Ama, who came from Sicily as a girl.

My uncle married a WASP, like my father did too, and like Al Pacino married Diane Keaton in Godfather II. When I saw that movie as a teenager, I told my father it reminded me of him.

He said, "You will never say that to me again."

You can imagine, his response totally convinced me of how wrong I was... [cough, cough]

I feel I inherit my ability to hold a grudge from this side of the family. Bad feelings twine like invisible wires around various people in this photo, not to mention the missing family members.

Resentment seems sort of Sicilian, doesn't it?  Plants and animals have to be tenacious and self-protective to survive the harsh island, saltwater, and sun. They grow spikes and tough skins and they eat rocks.

Not that my mother came from a family of sweeties. But they were polite society folks, who were more likely to secretly shame you than to stab you with their eyes.

I want to make clear that both families had wonderful qualities too. My gold-hatted auntie (above), for instance, now 88 years old, took up painting this year and has basically turned her little living room into an art studio.

And my uncle Tony––in the tuxedo between my mother & my auntie––is the one who paid for me and bink to visit Sicily a few years ago, and then amazingly left us in his will too.
It surprised me because I didn't know him well, though I always thought he was super cool, the way he drank whiskey on ice and smoked Camel cigarettes. (He died of emphysema, but he did make it almost to 85.) Of course an adult could form a lifelong (and accurate) opinion of a young child that the child wouldn't necessarily know.

And my mother's side? They could sit on a porch on hot Missouri evenings and tell stories like nobody's business. And they had quite a flare for arranging china plates.

Anyway, this year my resentment flared up toward a couple people in a way that disturbs me, but that I can't see any easy or obvious way around. Both instances had to do with my mother's death--me feeling sensitive about it, naturally enough, but also feeling really stuck in resenting people who trod on those feelings (carelessly, but firmly).

I don't think I should just snap out it, exactly, and just put away my tender feelings and forget.
If people can't be careful of your tenderest feelings, after all, maybe it's a good idea to adjust the amount of space between you.
But in these two cases, out of my resentment I was actively unkind, which I regret.

I wish I had been able to ... what?
I don't know, because they were bad situations in both cases, already well progressed. I just know I made them worse. Nothing so bad as in the Godfather, though. Maybe I should count my blessings....


poodletail said...

I would love to read a long, long story about your family à la The Godfather. I would devour every word and wish I had even one gram of Italian in me.

Zhoen said...

Have you seen any of the Il commissario Montalbano series? I suspect you would fall a bit in love.

Fresca said...

POODLE: OK, not a "long, long story", but I blogged about my family and movies today.

ZHOEN: My father loves that series.
Which makes me feel wary of it... but I should give it a try, at least.

Zhoen said...

Montalbano is a deeply endearing character, and there is a lot of humor in the show.

bink said...

Mentioning your mother's family on the porch, I imagine your grandmother drinking Cherry Bounce-- lady-like name, sweet favor (I'm guessing) and a nasty kick of hootch hidden underneath. Metaphor for the woman herself, perhaps?

Fresca said...

hA, yes, that's my grandmother and Cherry Bounce alright--deceptively pink & pretty.