Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bedford Falls, CT

Last night my mother's family gathered at Grandma's for dinner. One of my aunts is in from out of town with her husband, so it was nice to visit. And given the drama that unfolded at Grandma's birthday party last weekend, we all needed to prove to ourselves and each other that a peaceful, pleasant family gathering is possible--like, once every couple of years.

So there we were--my mom, her two sisters, my siblings, my kids, my aunt's kids, my uncle, my Grandmother, her brother--devouring a nice Irish meal of potroast and veggies. (It was actually amazingly good.) We all crammed into Grandma's tiny dining room, as Sean observed, "This is just like Thanksgiving, without the turkey!" And everyone was a good mick, saying please and thank you as they passed the potatoes.

Amazingly, it lasted. As we cleared plates and shared tasteless jokes, political differences, and baseball allegiances, I was rocketed back in time to when I was Sean's age, and my young loud family all pretty much got along--and seemed to enjoy each other's company. My belly was warm with this feeling. Or maybe it was just the potroast. Either way, when I looked up and saw Sean covering his ears and yelling, "Why does everyone have to talk at the same time around here? Ai yi yi!", I felt like I was home.

My brother (he's 11) and my children went outside to play hide-and-seek in Grandma's backyard as I put dirty dishes in the sink and side-stepped one mouthy female relative after another in the kitchen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Sean pondering the daffodils and tulips that I had planted last fall with Grandma. He crouched down to inspect the flowers, studying their form.

As I watched this sweet little moment, conversation spilled into the kitchen about my cousin Matt and his losses in the fire that ravaged his apartment complex last weekend. I had sent Matt a Target gift card in the hopes that he could buy something -- anything -- that he needed, since he needs everything from toothpaste and socks to furniture. Other people had thought of Matt, too. Lots of people. Several of Matt's friends from his days at Boston University rallied with mutual friends from around here, and a huge collection was taken up. Between family and friends, thousands of dollars were raised for Matt to rebuild his life. Matt, overcome with emotion, didn't want to accept it. Finally, one of his 'tough' buddies muscled Matt into accepting it, and somewhere a bell probably rang and an angel got its wings.

Later, home, my boys in bed and the doorknob removed from the bathroom after Nolan's defiance that managed to temporarily lock us all out of the bathroom at bedtime, I collapsed onto the couch with tea. The weekend had been an emotional one, between house hunting and family issues and the fire. But last night I realized that when Sean says he wishes the whole world were made of Legos so he could make it any way he wanted, he is on to something: The whole world is a lot like Legos. What falls apart can always come back together again, differently.

I slept very well last night.

Tonight I go to Yankee Stadium. :o)

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