As long as they think it’s a good day that’s what matters

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.

 

Written by Lisa R. Howeler

I'm a mom, a wife, a writer, a photographer and a former journalist. I write a little bit about a lot of things on my blog Boondock Ramblings. In September of 2019 I self-published my first novel, A Story to Tell and published another one in May of 2020. I enjoy John Wayne and Cary Grant movies, Jan Karon's books, and I have an electic taste in music. Welcome to my blog and feel free to poke around. Fridays are Fiction Fridays, where I share a piece of fiction I'm working on.

11 comments

  1. I once had a neighbor who seemed like all she was concerned about was weight — in others! She constantly commented on this person or other about the weight gained or lost. I never understood why that was her focus except that she was as skinny as a rail and I think it reinforced in her mind that she looked good. Who knows? I’ve been toodling around a lot in my family’s genealogy too. My parents are deceased and my grandparents were all gone by the time I was 10. No aunts or uncles left either and my parents never knew their grandparents as they were also deceased by the time my parents were born. So there are a lot of unanswered questions.

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  2. I have never understood that about growing up in a toxic family environment, at least toxic to me. In our family everyone had a role to play. There were the ones that were the sensitive and quiet types who became the families punching bags emotionally and sometimes even physically.

    Then there were the invisible ones. They to me had the hardest time of all because they were never really acknowledged unless to get them to pick on one of the sensitive types, which they jump right into that role immediately, just happy someone was paying attention to them.

    Then you had the queens and kings in the family. They ruled the family and decided who got to be the favored ones and made the favored ones into the princes and princesses of the family.

    If the sensitive types and invisible ones tried to outshine the royalty of the family dynamic then they would be put back into their places by little jabs and comments to take away their confidence. They were there after all to make the Kings and queens feel very important. How dare they go on to bigger and better things to make them look bad.
    At least this is how it seems with my family and it is still happening.

    It’s like a wicked fairy tale gone wrong. But it does have a happy ending when the ones picked on finally wake up and see the light and pick happiness instead of the misery the ones that were suppose to love and cherish them would rather they be apart of.

    Strange way to explain it, but then I am going through something right now with my father’s side of the family and it hurts when it is fresh. I will get through this as well.

    I think that is so cool what you are doing with looking up your family history. I did that too, to find some answers behind the abuse in my family. I even found an old newspaper article from way back in time before I was born where they wrote about my grandfather in the local news and how he waterboard his children and hit them. My father always stayed quiet about him when I ask questions. One aunt just lied and said he was such a kind man and another aunt told me horror stories about him. Somewhere in the middle was the truth and I went searching and opened a big can of worms lets just say. Okay, I am off now to do some laundry…boring.

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      1. Thank you Lisa, I was worried I got carried away there and it was too long but it is a subject that is close to my heart. If you think about it, all those families out there in toxic environments are basically living this same story. I believe you are that quiet one that is choosing happiness. You recognize right away when something isn’t right with how you and your family are being treated. It is hard in the beginning to make the necessary changes in our lives to start turning things around in positive ways but it is possible and we all deserve to be treated with kindness and love. There definitely is a divide going on and the ones who are all about happiness in their lives are separating more and more from the ones that want to stay in misery, bitterness and resentment towards others. All I know how to do is pray for the broken and bitter ones stuck in hate. pray that they start to see how much better it is to live in Joy.

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  3. It seems that you got out of the day what you brought to it – a good experience for your children and your own philosophical acceptance of a person who’s still shoveling dirt into the abyss of their own anxiety. I think you’re right that what comes out of her, or anyone, is a reflection of what’s going on inside. Lord have mercy.

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  4. Some people (especially of the older generation and usually female) seem to have no filter and think it’s ok to say things to others that most people wouldn’t even think of saying. My grandmother was the same way. She would either comment on my weight (high or low) or my hair (I may or may not have dyed it once or twice just to see the reaction I would get 😉 ) The worst was probably when I was pregnant with our second child and she asked me if I knew where the drug store was! We just shrugged it off because we knew that was how she was and she didn’t say anything else as we kept having more kids 🙂 I think it’s a reflection of how they feel about themselves and the fact that they are getting older. I always took everything my grandmother said with a huge grain of salt considering she left my grandfather when he had a broken back and her two sons and moved across the country with some guy. I’m sorry you and your dad have to deal with that. It can be very hard when people we love criticize us and say hurtful things without any seeming care. I’m glad your kids at least had a good day! Days without electronics are always good to have sometimes! God Bless!

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  5. Ahhhhhhhh. I have endured these comments from well meaning friends and family members. It is painful and kind of hard to realize that they don’t even have a clue that what they are saying is hurtful. Love and peace to you, Lisa.

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