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2/6/08
Family Reunions

My work partner, Chris, had a family reunion this past weekend. Apparently it was quite the shindig, because he's been talking about it for the past three days. I can't tell if he enjoyed the reunion or not. He seems to oscillate between "My family is a hoot!" and "Oh my gosh I can't believe I'm related to these people". (Of course, I suppose that most of us do that).

Anyway, Crawford’s self-imposed prison sentence with great aunts and third cousins and random elderly people that he will never ever be able to identify even though they are, in some way, sharing at least some of his genetic code, got me thinking about my own family reunions. Personally, I’m not such a big fan of the reunions. First, I have a very large family and I never know half the people who show up for them, and second, certain family members keep returning from the dead to attend them.

Yes, you read that right. Family members whom I have personally watched being lowered into the ground continue to attend family reunions. It really freaked me out as a kid.

When I was but a wee Quirk, I was somehow related to a woman known only to me as "Nana"*. She was very very old, had thick coke bottle glasses that made one eye squinty and the other eye HUGE, and a hump from osteoporosis. I remember thinking that she looked a lot like the witch from Hanzel and Grettel, although I’m not sure where I got that idea from. I think from the cackling. She cackled a lot, and everyone knows that only witches cackle. We used to visit her occasionally, and the only thing that I remember distinctly was that her house smelled like old person, and she had a really vicious man-eating bird that she constantly threatened to sic on me. Every time we would visit, Nana would lean over, glare at me with her one giant eye, and tell me "That bird will bite your fingers off!". Then she would cackle. I had a mental picture of hundreds of fingerless children running screaming from the house while Nana stood on the porch and cackled. I couldn’t see the bottom of the bird’s cage because I was too short, but I was sure that it was full of gnawed up finger bones. (I have since learned that the bird in question was actually a parakeet, and that she was warning me not to stick my fingers in the cage or else the bird could bite me, but really, as young as I was, how could I not think that she was feeding little kid fingers to her giant bird of death)? The point of the story is that after years of visiting with both hands clasped firmly behind me lest the bird get any ideas, Nana died. We knew that she had died. There was a funeral, and she was in the casket, and that was that…until the next family reunion. I walked in, and there was Nana! Same thick coke bottle glasses, same giant eye, same stooped stature. It had been my understanding that when someone died, they were supposed to go to heaven, but you weren’t supposed to see them anymore! (Obviously God had given Nana permission to keep coming to family reunions). Next family reunion rolled around, and Nana was in attendance once again. I wasn’t about to question Nana about it when obviously she and God had worked out a deal, but still… Besides, of all neat things to do back on Earth, attending a family reunion wouldn’t have been my first choice. (Seaworld would have been my first choice. Maybe Nana had a fear of fish). The years went by, and by now I had just accepted that Nana would be at family reunions, despite her ethereal state. It wasn’t until I mentioned something in passing to Mom years later about Nana coming back from the dead that she set the record straight. It seems that Nana really did die, and we really did bury her, but what I didn’t understand what that Nana had a sister. And the sister had very similar genes to Nana, especially ones that made her look exactly like Nana when she got older. And it was the SISTER that kept coming to family reunions, looking like Nana-incarnate. This information both relieves me (Nana's decided to stay put behind the Pearly Gates after all) and scares me, because obviously coke bottle glasses, one huge eye and a hump are the result of pretty consistent genes...ones that currently belong to my family. Nana may be attending family reunions for the rest of my life.


*I'm sure Nana was really a sweet little old lady who had the misfortune of being painted with the brush of a child's imaginative impressions (and later posted on the internet). I'm almost 70% sure that she didn't feed children's fingers to her bird.

4 comments:

Melissa~ said...

Why do people say such bizarre things to children? There's a clerk at the station where my husband stops to get gas and she always says to my little boy, "I'm just gonna grab you and take you home with me." and then laughs. I'm sure she means it as a compliment...but come on...scary!

M~
Pink Paper Peppermints

Quirky said...

I'd be scared of gas station lady too if she said that to me. I hope your son yells stranger danger! and runs away.

smc said...

Silly sister. It was aunt Sibereen that kept coming back to life, not nana.

...

Or was it both?

Quirk's Mom said...

Okay, silly daughters! Aunt Siverean (who is now dead) was Nana's daughter (and your Grandpa Grinch's sister) and she had no biological children of her own so I guess the old grey goose is finally dead! (God forgive me of speaking ill of the dead but the daughter did look EXACTLY like the mom in every scary way!!)