I guess I always had issues with forming close relationships.
I remember laying on the floor huddled up in front of my grandparents big console TV listening to my grandmother on the phone with my dad. I remember thinking that I had never seen her cry...until now. I remember my father talking about my mom in later years and swallowing the lump in my throat because I had to be strong for my father. I was seven.
I remember at the time how mean I thought my Poppop was. He was loud and impatient. Sometimes he said things that weren't so nice. I think he was obsessed with food..lol. It's a wonder he lived as long as he did. He was also a big softy if you caught him on a good day. He'd give you the shirt off his back if you needed it and always had a boat of a car that he handed over to me whenever I wanted. I loved him. I watched in sadness as he went downhill fast after his stroke. I also watched the day the coroner came and took him away. I was twenty three.
I never came around when my family was visiting. I was always invited, obviously, I just rarely showed up and when I did, I didn't stay long. I remember being jealous listening to my sister talk about their get togethers and my sisters trips to visit them, my cousin and my aunt. I never thought about it at the time, but I think I was afraid of loving and losing and being hurt again.
I've been through a lot in my life, even more than I'm willing to write about. I've grown as a person so much over the years and it was after having my own children that I realized how very important my family was to me and how ridiculous I had been.
I let down my guard and started going to family functions. That was possibly what was missing from my life. I love them all so much more than they'll ever know...ALL of them!
My sister and I are best friends. We don't always agree on things, but it's part of what we love about each other. She's my big sister, the older, skinnier, blond version of myself. She hates when I say that. She hates that she's aging, but I think she's still young and hip. She still looks good in a bikini. LOL. Do you know what it's like to just have to look at someone and know what they're thinking? That's my big sister and me. We've been through a lot, me and my sister. But we're strong, must be the Hillman blood.
I think about how excited I used to get as a child waiting for "Jersey and Delaware" to show up.
My Uncle Sean who used to steal my nose and put it in his pocket and makes the best collard greens. He told me I took his breath away when he saw me walk down the isle at my wedding because I looked just like my mom. The reason I had to explain to people why my cousins were black. LOL. My cousin Apryl, the beautiful model and actress I was so proud of. Lover of butterflies. I used to take my blue Ziggy folder full of her magazine adds and the playbill from The Piano that she acted in as a little girl to school and show her off as if they were pictures of myself. Seanie...I miss Seanie. So handsome. He took over my place as the one who doesn't come around much. We did get to see him last summer though. I love him! And my Aunt Tracy...we've formed a special relationship in the past year or so. My fellow chocolate lover. Germophobe. LOL. When I think about what my mom must have been like, I often think maybe she was just like my Aunt Tracy. We're stubborn. Sarcastic. Funny. They're Delaware.
My three cousins from Jersey. I always loved listening to them talk with their Jersey accents. I remember traveling with my grandparents to see them and telling them I thought the trip seemed longer the older I got. I was little. I remember Mary coming to Mommom and Poppop's one time and taking me in her little pickup truck to the Apollo Plaza shopping. We had conversation about what kind of car I wanted... a Mazda Miata...what was I thinking. Lisa, the pretty blond in the Navy. She has my grandparents only other great grandchild besides mine and Nicole's. Dalton. What a nice boy. And then there's Sandy. Sandy and I were born on the same day, December 26th, 5 years apart. I didn't realize until this past Easter how much I've been missing out on not keeping touch with my cousins. Sandy and I have a lot more in common than I ever knew. My hope is that we'll all be better about keeping in touch. My Uncle Grant. If there ever was a Poppop, Jr. it is him! I feel so much differently about him as an adult than I ever did as a child. Maybe it's him, maybe it's me, but I really like being around him. He's funny. He owns 50 of the same camo shirt because they were cheap. My kinda guy! He so reminded me of my grandfather at our last gathering, I was so amazed. The food obsession we all possess must be a Merwin thing. He was waiting for the women of our family, and Uncle Sean, to get dinner ready and he jokingly made a comment about it taking so long and then the phrase "by the Jesus" came out of his mouth and I was taken back 15 years. Aunt Judy. I don't really remember much of her, but I do remember that she took my sister and I for our first Shirley Temple.
My Aunt Charlotte. Baker of pies and maker of jelly. I remember going to the NYS Fair with her and sleeping on a lawn chair in the big barns next to the goats. What a blast we had. We got to see Whitney Houston in concert that year. Even working in the barns she always had the cutest heels on. And the legs on that woman...woo! LOL. And who could forget about my Uncle John. Uncle Hiney. Always jokingly calls me the good kid. And wet head. So funny.
And my Mommom. The glue. The most amazing woman I've ever known. I have fond memories of peanut butter fudge and fried hamburgers out of her cast iron skillets. I remember pretzels bitten into the shape of her name. I remember cross word puzzles and ham and cheese sandwiches. Candy hidden in random drawers. The most amazing Christmas village you'll ever see. Loving. Strong. Fiesty. She's a Jesus loving woman of God and we are so blessed as a family to have her. She's never had a drivers license and never been drunk! A rare breed, my mom's mom. Our Mommom.
We're all scattered across the North East. Always wished we lived closer. We're all obsessed with food, even my skinny sister. We're all sarcastic and stubborn. We're a talented group of women and men, if I do say so. We've loved and lossed. We remain strong and positive. Must be the Hillman/ Merwin blood.
I'm glad I came around.