The holidays really aren’t what they used to be. When I was a kid, holidays used to be spent at my grandma’s house. My entire family, which is huge, would gather and eat and talk shit and sometimes fight. These days, the whole family kind of does their own thing with my immediate family being no exception.
This year my parents chose to attend a party that they made me attend only for me to be, at 39 years old, the youngest one there. I spent my evening not knowing what everyone was talking about and listening to an older couple make innuendos about “eating meat”. Also, I was the only sober one.
By the way, if you ever want to feel like a kid again, find yourself in that kind of situation.
As fun as it was to be in the equivalent of that worst-case scenario where you’re watching a movie with your parents and a sex scene comes on, the 2022 holiday season hit different. Losing close family members over the years has changed the holidays for my immediate family and this past year, we lost my grandma.
My grandmother’s passing felt like the end of an era. She was the Queen Elizabeth of our family except she never let anyone starve and nobody was happy when she died.
She was an amazing woman who didn’t ask for much in life. But no matter how incredible she was, there’s just one thing my family has never been able to do for her.
The last couple of years of her life were rough as she suffered from dementia. For those 2 years, she remained in the care of my uncle Robert but for reasons I’ve still yet to hear, he pretty much kept all of my aunts away from her. To be honest, I didn’t even know he’d done that until the day after she’d passed. And while I don’t know what their feud was about, I do know they kicked that shit into high gear less than 12 hours after her passing.
Growing up, I spent a significant amount of my childhood at my grandma’s house hanging out with my cousin Amanda who, along with her mom, dad, and 2 younger brothers, lived there. Almost every weekend was a slumber party and up until it happened, I always thought that when my grandma passed, Amanda and I would have one more slumber party in that haunted ass house and reminisce until the 2 a.m. footsteps scared us to a hotel.
That never happened, partially because her house fell into disrepair after she moved in with my uncle but primarily because mere hours after she passed it was under siege.
It all began when my uncle Robert did an incredibly fucked up thing. He waited until after she passed to tell everyone so nobody got to say goodbye before she died. I don’t care who you are, that’s fucking low.
And because everybody hates him, my dad is the one who had to call everyone and break the news about my grandma’s death. I received a text from my mom the next morning and called her as soon as I could to see how my dad was doing.
He was doing OK. Sad, but OK.
My aunt Ida, one of my dad’s sisters, was not faring as well.
When I called my mom she went into detail about my grandma’s passing and then said “everyone’s already fighting”. I don’t even think my grandma was cold yet.
Apparently, when my dad told Ida what happened she hung up, drove to my uncle’s house, and drove back and forth in front of it honking her horn and screaming “I’m going to kill you!!” Ida eventually came to a stop in front of his house prompting my aunt Sylvia (Robert’s wife) to go outside and find out what the hell. So Sylvia walks up to the passenger side of the truck and Ida takes a swing at her missing by probably an entire foot because the majority of the women in my family are like 4’11”. (At just over 5’3”, I’m considered “tall”)
Ida would eventually go home but my family was just getting started. Later that evening, I received a follow-up call from my mom.
At the 12-hour mark of my grandma’s death, the cops were called to her house.
I began to prepare myself for their eventual brawl which I was positive would take place at the funeral home. I’d assigned myself as the protector of my grandma’s casket, making sure their flurry of putazos didn’t knock it over. All of the fights I’d witnessed as a kid at our backyard Pachangas had prepared me for this so I guess they weren’t for nothing.
Just as I’d finalized my new position and plan in my head, my mom hit me with more news. My cousin Tom had completed his prison sentence (FOR MURDER) and would be at the funeral.
“Do I need to be armed?” I asked my mom.
“No, your dad will be”.
BTW, I’ve been told by a friend that the conversation I had with my mom is one that would never happen in her family. Boring.
Anyway, that was day one.
The next day my grandma’s obituary ran.
The day after my grandma passed away my dad had gone to the funeral home to help Robert with the funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, he didn’t consider asking about the obituary, which was put together by my uncle.
It looked and read like he was working within the confines of Twitter’s character count.
When it came to her survivors, my uncle’s name came first, obviously. He made zero mention of the grandkids, great-grandkids, or my other 2 uncles that had since passed away. He didn’t include my aunt Diana’s last name but I will say that in his defense, she’s been married a few times and for the most part not very many people know what it is.
He also didn’t mention who the pallbearers would be but that was because he forgot he needed them in his haste to Norman Bates the funeral. And then there was the picture.
He chose a picture of my grandma from when she was 14.
Ok she was 90 when she died. She’d taken HUNDREDS of pictures since her teens.
For most people, the days that follow after the death of a loved one usually involve reminiscing and recalling happier times.
For us, it was a precursor of what to expect at the visitation and funeral which took place just 3 days after her death because my uncle was trying to make it hard for his out-of-town sisters to make it.
His plan, however, failed. EVERYONE made it and for the first time in their adult lives all of my aunts had something in common: they wanted to murder Robert.
I’ll see you this Wednesday for Part II: The Visitation