Friday, June 20, 2014

Oily turns 90

There are two words that will cause me to descend into a sweaty and heartbeat-skipping anxiety attack. Family meeting. FAMILY MEETING. I have this game I play with myself because I have a lack of interesting things to do. If I need to deal with something unpleasant - a root canal, a gynecological exam, bingo night at the nursing home I ask myself.  Which would be worse, hostessing the bingo or having that exam? It helps put things into perspective and makes the event less threatening. But there's nothing more frightening than the family meeting. It stands alone in its hellish terror.

Luckily, I come from a family whose members agree on this. Major catastrophies need to be happening before we will all gather in a room without a Christmas tree and stare at each other. Like my mother's final illness and now, my father's 90th birthday.

I am one of five siblings all born within seven years. The upside of that situation is that we enjoyed the same childhood interests pretty much the whole time during our upbringing. The downside is that we are fiercely competitive for the desired parental attention slot and we are ballsy and ruthless about our expectations.  These characteristics do not lend to a successful family meeting.

I have just finished feeding my father his supper after he spent eight hours at our local museum dressed as Oily the Oiler, an imaginary employee on a steamboat. Dad gives tours on this crate that used to dredge mud out of the Mississippi way back when. I cannot think of anything more boring but like my brothers he is totally fascinated by anything that has an engine, especially big noisy, grease-belching ones.

I baked a rhubarb cake for Dad's dessert and consider offering a piece to my brothers and their wives. But then I think, no, they'd want something to drink and then would need to use the bathroom and that would only prolong the situation.

We face each other across the room and talk about pulled pork sandwiches and buying tableware at the dollar store and for the most part the session ends with no blood shed and the vein on my father's forehead did not pulsate at all, not even once.

Successful family meeting.


1 comment:

Dan said...

Why am I thinking `Kevlar' and `flak jackets' when I read this account?