So...first of all, thanks for all of your support. Saturday was simply a horrible day.
I woke up on Sunday with my face totally swollen from having cried so much on Saturday night. It was downright pitiful, I cried like a baby because my feelings were so hurt that I felt like one big, raw nerve. But I did feel better in some ways - I had gotten a good night's sleep, I had plenty of time to process what had happened with my mom and had come to terms with the fact that I was going to have to deal with her on Sunday whether I wanted to or not.
I really thought about not going to the medal ceremony. But you know, it was for my dad and he was very excited about it, so there was no way that my beef with my mom was going to keep me away.
Around 10:30, the phone rang - I checked my caller ID and discovered it was my sister's number, meaning that it was my mom in all likelihood. I answered, and she said that they were sitting around reading the paper, asked if we wanted to come for lunch (I said no, because we weren't even showered or dressed and we would just meet them at the ceremony), and then asked me if I could bring this quilt she had made Monkey Man last year with American flags and a red, white and blue color scheme. She had this harebrained scheme that she was going to use it as a tablecloth on a display table at the ceremony to display pictures of Dad. Um, okay, sure.
Well, getting ready and shoveling lunch down our throats took longer than expected, plus it actually was sleeting at our house all morning, so we were running late. We pulled up outside the church where the ceremony was and went dashing inside...we were still early for the ceremony, but I was later than what I wanted to be getting there.
Let me say right now - and get this off my chest - that part of what has had me so agitated about this whole medal thing is that it was being awarded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Yup, you read that right. Things like that still exist here in the South and there are people that really get into it. Yeah, I get the whole "states rights" issue and all that, but to me the display of the Confederate flag is really offensive and I'm not one of those who believes in the whole "heritage, not hate" mantra. So imagine, if you will, my hesitation to attend a medal ceremony honoring my dad's military service just for the mere fact that his ancestor was a Confederate soldier. Not to mention that the whole ceremony was in the Church of the Confederacy, complete with two Confederate flags flying out front. I seriously was looking for the dudes in white hoods to greet us at the door, but all I got was a few old ladies with ribbons full of pins and medals proudly displayed on their bosoms. And they played "Dixie" on an honest-to-God foot pedal organ. Egads.
So anyhow, fear of repercussion from bystanders aside, the ceremony was nice and short. Dad got two medals and then they had a ton of pictures that had to be taken, yadda yadda yadda. My little family sat at one end of the pew, my parents were in the row in front of me.
After that, it was on to my sister's house for the Family Dinner. These are agonizing affairs for the most part, mostly due to the fact that although the plan is always to eat "early" that means 7 PM. We have a 45-minute drive home so by the time we're done we literally put our forks down and run out the door so we can get Monkey Man home. My mother was in full bossy mode in the kitchen so my sister let her take over which was probably a smart move.
I pulled my sister aside and gave her a few tidbits of what Mom had done on Saturday. Well, to add to all that apparently my parents just freaking showed up at my sister's on Saturday without letting anyone know they were coming. I can't believe my brother-in-law was actually home since he wasn't on duty...typically the guy is on his boat down at the river every chance he gets, so how they caught him at home was a miracle. My sister called home Saturday night to check on my brother-in-law, and he was like um, guess who just showed up? I think my sister had to change her britches after THAT conversation.
Anyhow, we made it through the dinner. I maintained as friendly of a manner as I could - the day was about Dad, not the fact that I was pissy about my mother. And we left.
Today I took the day off from work to go clothes shopping with my mom and my sister. It was pretty uneventful, although I did manage to steal about 10 minutes with my sister to talk about Mom. She claims that my mother is so overwhelmed by caring for Dad and my aunt that lives next door (widow with no kids) that she isn't doing a good job dealing with the stress. And I want to call Bullshit on that. My mother has always been cold. She doesn't care about anyone but herself.
This morning I hung around the house waiting on the Idiot Shower Glass People to come and Cat Door showed up for breakfast (of course) so we had a chance to talk about what had happened. His dad does the freaking SAME THING...he will come to town for 2 - 3 days and never call Cat Door or his brother. It hurts him, too.
"The thing is, Liz, no matter what - they're our parents. And they might not be the most sensitive people in the world, but they're not horrible people either."
"I know, but honestly - if my father was no longer alive, I probably wouldn't have a relationship with my mom at all. But there's my dad - he needs me. And then there's my sister. If I'm out of the picture, then it leaves her to deal with all the BS with my parents and as they get older it's going to be more and more. It's not fair for Kathie to get the short end of the stick in this situation because I can't get along with my mom, you know?" I asked him.
"I know," he said. "But that's one of the things that's great about you. You always give and give to people and you try to do the right thing."
Yeah, I do. But damn, does it suck.
So as I told Cat Door this morning, I am going to make it a mission for myself in the next few weeks to find myself a therapist or someone that I can go talk to about my relationship with my mom. I've made some huge headway in my own relationship with my in-laws in the past few years without any professional help...but this is my mom. That's a little close to home. So I think having a neutral party to talk to about it can help me cope a little better and develop some sort of plan for how to deal with the upcoming years.
Last night, my sweet Monkey Man gave me a hug goodnight. "Mommy, I'm sorry that Nana hurt your feelings," he whispered in my ear.
Me too, buddy. Me too.