First of all, I have a deep connection with my unruly, dysfunctional family. Don’t get me wrong, I love them, but come on!
This is especially true, when they are dead. When people in my family die, weird shit happens. Like, I can’t get rid of them (I don’t want to).
It seems that my mom’s family is more likely to reach out to me from beyond the grave. They’re always with me. Especially my Uncle Stephen and my Grammie, whose name was literally Claire Clair (after marriage). I’ll get back to the mamas’ side later.
On my dad’s side…well…my grandma Lillian was a force to be reckoned with. In the short period of time Lillian graced me with her presence, she impressed upon me the appreciation of the finer things in life, like mixing juice with seltzer water when you craved soda but also wanted to stay svelte (I am disappointed that “svelte” is not a Yiddish word. I always thought it was. I couldn’t bring myself to use the actual Yiddish word for thin because it was boring).
Lillian gave me my gift for finding fresh scores from thrift stores – a trait I didn’t know could be passed genetically. She was an antique collector. She also collected “fine” art.
I like to think that had she lived longer, she would have collected the fine works of her grandchildren. Well, more likely my brother Chad’s work. When we were little, dining at restaurants, sometimes the owners would save the placemats (or paper table covers) that he drew all over. They would say they were keeping them for when he was “famous.” He’s not famous yet, but he does have his own IMDB page.
When my grampa died of ALS in 2005, I wanted their formica gray and pink boomerang pattern kitchen table from the 1950’s SO BAD, but I wasn’t allowed to take it because supposedly we had “NO ROOM FOR IT!”
Most of their smaller antiques now live in our basement, which is a graveyard of our dead relatives’ belongings + the remains of the crap I had from moving in and out of apartments when I realized that actually living in apartments was too expensive for the low wages I make.
Lillian died of cancer when I was three years old because, ultimately, she was afraid of doctors. This is a lesson I myself need to conquer. I need a new doctor, like yesterday. Because my doctor, with the fourteen letters in her unpronounceable last name, scares me more than people coming back from the dead. Eh, that isn’t a good comparison because visits from dead people aren’t scary. I don’t want to repeat this family pattern of being scared to face doctors, even though the process of finding a new doctor is truly terrifying.
While Lillian showed up to protect me when necessary, (and showed everyone else on my angel team who was boss), she had put on an even bigger show for my mother. Shortly after her passing, my mom noticed doors open and lights going on and off. She felt a presence and knew it was her mother-in-law.
“Your mother was just here!” my mom cried, waking my sleeping father.
“My mother is dead.” he replied. 👻
This site is dedicated to my Grandma Lillian for inspiring my aesthetic and my taste for the finer things in life.
But wait, I see (more) dead people (to dedicate this to).
Where my mother’s side may have passed down my witchiness, my father’s side passed down my sense of humor. I mean come on, they were Jewish, and if you don’t laugh in this culture, you will just want to cry.
I think I got my smile from my Grampa Arthur.
There are so many funny Arthur Stories. I want to share three of them:
Arthur was a class clown. His first grade teacher was unimpressed by his antics. One day, she finally decided on his punishment. “Well, if you think you’re such a wise guy,” she said, exasperated, “Let’s see how you fare in the third grade!” He was fine.
One day in middle school, our teachers invited certain grandparents who lived during World War II to be interviewed by us. My Grammie Clair and Arthur opted in to this experience. My Grampa was given THE group of the popular boys that everyone had a crush on. After it was over, these boys, who normally never talked to me, came rushing over to me at lunch. “LAURA!” they exclaimed, “Your Grandpa is SO cool! He was swearing and everything!”
…no one said anything to me about my grandmother though.
As an insomniatic child, one night I was creeping around, not able to sleep Like, a haunting undead child. My parents were away and Arthur was our house-sitter (not quite sure of his babysitting credentials).
In my parents’ ginormous bathroom, I often unashamedly annoyed my family while they were in there. Maybe I was curious. Maybe I just liked that bathroom (I mean who wouldn’t? It had a jacuzzi in the middle of it and a weird hallway where my mom stored her clothes in fancy zip up bags on hangers. AND at the end of the hallway, there was a cedar closet, where I would hide during my temper tantrums). Anywho, maybe I was just unashamed and curious about what people do in bathrooms. I had to get my potty jokes from somewhere!
That night, I stood in the bathroom by the sink so I could watch my grampa brush his teeth. Instead, he reached into his mouth and took out what I thought were all his teeth and his jaw in two pieces. I was shocked. I was wowed. What the heck was he doing and what kind of sorcery was this!? I must have mumbled something out loud about it being magic. And that’s when he told me………
……………To Be Continued…………
Look our for it in a few days!