It is weird how a bunch of stuff can change quickly. Sometimes it’s over the course of a week. Sometimes it’s over the course of a day.
Today, for me, it was over the course of an hour.
First, a bunch of work stuff went down. I was awarded a generous bonus by management as part of a profit sharing program that had been set up. It was double that I got last year, which in these hard financial times is actually a major relief. I have already earmarked a chunk of it to pay for our yearly tenants insurance. I think that is a horrible sign that I am now an adult, but what are you going to do?
Anyway, I was psyched about that and I went back down to the office after the meeting where my boss was waiting . . . to tell me that he is quitting his job. As of right now, there are only the two of us in the department, so if he leaves, that leaves . . . me. He said that he would recommend me for his replacement and that he would train me up on all of his managerial duties if I decided to take the job, so I am thinking about it and will probably decide tomorrow and then talk to the big brass upstairs about logistics.
The idea of being a manager kind of freaks me out a little bit, but in a good way. One of the issues I have had with my job has been that I have felt very much like a grunt that no one listened to. If I could run things my way and hire a contract person and teach them to do things my way, I would feel better about being there. Plus, there is the whole money issue. We are paid very poorly where I work, but if they were willing to upgrade me to the salary my boss is currently making if I took over his job, I would be happy. It wouldn’t be fabulous, but it would be okay and I can live with that.
Then about half an hour after the big boss quitting revelation, I got an e-mail from my mom telling me that her sister had died. My mom and the sister in question were not particularly close. She was a child from my grandfather’s first family which he had when he was a younger man (he was born in 1899). By the time, my grandmother got pregnant with my mother, the man was 53 years old and my aunts (there were two girls from his first marriage) were all grown up. As I have mentioned before, my grandfather was kind of a douche. He really was not happy about my grandmother being knocked up (she was 43 at the time so the pregnancy was a bit of a surprise) and he even went so far as to drive my grandmother to a back alley doctor to “get rid of it.” My grandmother went ahead with the pregnancy and gave birth to my mom, who she raised alone, on August 15, 1951. Because of the dramatic age difference between the siblings and because their only connecting thread was their asshole of a father, my mom and her sisters did not often see each other when she was young and I barely saw them at all.
The older of my mother’s two sisters, Shirley, passed away several years ago. She lived a tumultuous life and was married more than once. She also, like my grandfather, suffered from alcoholism. From what I understand, she drank so much that she severely damaged her brain with booze before being committed to the sanitarium in which she died alone and penniless.
The younger of the sisters, Joyce, led a quieter, simpler life. She married a nice man who she stayed married to for 58 years, had children and retired quietly to a small town in Alberta. It was only as adults that she and my mother developed any sort of relationship, exchanging regular letters and pictures.
My aunt Joyce was kind of a phantom to me. I remember being told that I met her as a small child and as a young adult, she phoned me once after my accident to make sure I was okay (we talked for about an hour), but her existence was more of a notion than a fact to me. Most of the things I knew about her were from the things my mother would relay to me – little glimpses into a part of a family I didn’t know. But this morning when my mom e-mailed me in the middle of our family drama to tell me that she’d passed away, it did still feel like a loss.
It felt even weirder when I actually phoned my mom to check in. While I waited for the phone to ring, I still felt a bit miffed about what had happened between us and uncomfortable about what our conversation might be like, but the second we started talking again and I heard how sad she sounded, I couldn’t keep the anger going. My grandmother had passed away in 1989 and so Joyce was the last link to my mother as a little girl. Now with her gone, my mom was truly alone and as an only child myself, I could imagine the scariness of that feeling.
So we talked. Not about what was going on with us, but about her sister and how she (my mom) was doing. Joyce had really loved to read, so my mom talked about donating some books to a school library in her memory. As I consider myself fairly knowledgeable in children’s lit, I offered to help her come up with a list of books that might be good for grade schoolers and she seemed thankful and happy at the idea.
At the end of our phone conversation, she mentioned meeting up next week for drinks with her and my Godmother who will be in town from Montreal and I said okay.
And that was that. We didn’t talk about our problems or our feelings, we just both kind of accepted that death was bigger than our personal $h!t and decided to move on.
I don’t know what any of this will mean in the long run. Maybe we’re secretly doing ourselves a disservice by pretending like nothing is wrong anymore, but as for right now, with everything that’s going on, I just couldn’t keep it going.
I’m still working it out, but I think part of being a grown up sometimes, in addition to paying your insurance, is knowing when to start and when to stop a fight. I’m not saying never say you’re unhappy or call people on their $h!t, but sometimes keeping something going past the point of logic is just petty. My mom found this out the hard way when my grandmother died in the middle of a stupid argument they were having, and while I don’t think my mom is going to be shuffling off her mortal coil any time soon (the woman will outlive us all!), I didn’t want to leave our relationship on the note it was on, especially during such a sucky time.
So we’ll see what the next week brings. Considering what the last little while has been like, I’m going to take the optimistic tact and say that even if things don’t necessarily get better, that they will hopefully get easier.