I love it when the day ends and my children say, “It’s been a good day.”
They said that Sunday night after we drove home an hour from our visit to my 87-year old aunt. I was glad to hear they had thought it was a good day because there is no WiFi or much of any technology at my aunt’s home. Cell service is barely available and the only toys she has are for her great-grandchildren, who are all under the age of five.
The day was essentially a device-free day, leading my children to find ways to entertain themselves without a phone, iPad or TV. My youngest drew some pictures and then my oldest found a pack of cards and we played a type of “high card-low card game,” allowing the person with the highest card to win. My aunt even joined in at one point, asking us to read the cards off to her since she suffers from macular degeneration the same way my grandmother did.
The rest of the time we spent looking at old photographs of my aunt and the rest of the family in a couple of her photos albums and a box in her back room. I’ve been on this ancestry kick for about a year or two and I think my family is sick of me asking what this person or that person was like. I’m sure it is hard for the older members of my family to keep talking about all those loved ones they knew who are now gone.
My aunt lost her husband 20 some years ago. My dad’s dad has been gone since I was about 2. My dad’s grandparents have been gone since the 60s. I suppose it is more interesting for me to hear about their lives than for my dad and his sister to recall it all. Remembering their family members might be a bit heartbreaking now that they are gone. I guess I look at discussing them as a way to keep them alive.
While visiting I also had to fend off the usual questions from my aunt about my weight gain and this time around my dad had to do the same, only about his weight loss.
“I just have to ask, have you gained even more weight?” she asked me.
I lied and told her I hadn’t. I said I was just as fat as the last time she’d seen me because even if I had gained weight she would have been as cutting about it as usual. And if I had lost weight she probably would have asked why I hadn’t lost more. There is no winning with her on that front.
This time she even asked if I was pregnant again. Wonderful.
She then turned attention to her baby brother, my dad. “You look too thin, Ronnie. Are you losing weight?”
He was walking out of one room and into another so I couldn’t see his expression but I could almost hear his eye roll as he said, “I’ve always been skinny.”
“Not this skinny,” my aunt mumbled.
I had to wonder where the balance would be for her when it comes to weight. What is too skinny, what is too fat? And what weight would make her happy anyhow?
A hundred pounds seems to be the magic number for her since that’s what she always weighed when she was younger. I can’t imagine the internal prison a person must put themselves in when they base their worth solely on their weight, but then again I’ve been there before and I guess If a person wants to judge their own worth on their weight they should be allowed to. The hard part is when they place the worth of others on that same judgment they have placed on themselves.
But what matters is that for the most part, the day was a good one. And if my children thought it was a good day, then that’s all that matters. Let them be sheltered for a while longer from the hurt inflicted on us by people who should love us unconditionally, but don’t.