Sunday, November 25, 2007

In Thanksgiving for Family

DS#1 came up for the weekend from college and DD#1 didn't have to work, so we were all together for Thanksgiving. I watched as the old family dynamic, especially among the siblings, quickly reasserted itself. DS#1 did notice that DD#2 seems to have blossomed since she entered high school, partly because she's only got one sibling--DS#2--to be compared with instead of three.

Sibling dynamics was a theme that kept coming up over and over this weekend.

We celebrated at Bro & SIL #2's, and most of the family was there. Politics barely came up. I did get the impression that Hillary might not have quite the support of the base as the polls indicate, although her nomination seems to be a foregone conclusion. (Which means voting in the primary is especially important!)

We spoke about schools, jobs, what happened to the Cal Bears. We drew names for Christmas, both siblings and cousins. Nieces and nephews were forced to hug and kiss their grandmothers and their aunts and uncles, because that's what we had to do when we were little.

And we marveled how well we all got along; how much we actually enjoy being together. Even our children seem to enjoy each other's company.

I tried not to be "Big Sister," especially since SIL#2, the hostess, is also the oldest sister in her family. I don't know how well I succeeded!

On Friday we drove up to visit Hubs' parents.

I'm always shocked to see how frail they've become, how Alzheimer's is slowly eating away at my FIL's memory. We were a fresh set of ears for his stories and a sounding board for both my MIL and Hubs Sis#2. She is the only one who lives in the area, so the bulk of taking care of the parents falls to her.

Hubs asked if he and the boys could set up Christmas lights, but they didn't want the fuss or bother. DD#2 and I made dinner: ham, sweet potatoes, salad, pumpkin pie. DD#2 also looked through the family albums, noticing that there were far more pictures of her oldest brother than of her. My MIL kept looking at DS#2 and wondering why she didn't know him as well as she knows DS#1. They retired and moved 300 miles away about the time DS#2 was born, so they only saw him when we were up there on vacation.

It's obvious to us all that my FIL will have to go to assisted living at some point, sooner rather than later. So will my MIL, although she is fighting that. She claims not to "need" it, but she has medical issues and is physically fragile. My SIL has health issues of her own. Hubs and I are not in a position to move closer--our jobs, our friends, our children's lives are firmly rooted and we don't particularly want to uproot.

Everyone has an opinion about what should be done. Some are more practical than others. I wonder what's in store for Hubs and I.

Hubs is the only boy and the baby of the family and has the only grandchildren. He is used to saying whatever outrageous thing comes to mind and getting away with it. His Sis#2 resents that some--after all, she is taking on the responsibility of caring for their parents. She feels unappreciated.

I'm the in-law. I'm the neutral sounding board. I don't have to make any of the decisions.

We only spent about 24 hours there. The younger children have commitments and DS#1 has another 300 mile drive back to college in Central California. He's taking the truck because the semester will be done in two weeks. I'm not really thrilled about it because I worry that when he becomes bored, he'll jump in the truck and take off somewhere, looking for distraction, instead of studying. However, Hubs thought it was okay and DS#1 pointed out that he can't afford to buy gas. I reluctantly agreed. But I see a trip to the Central Coast early next year. Or springing for a train ticket.

And so another thread of memory is woven into the tapestry of life...