Friday, July 17, 2009


My family... My whole life, whenever I refer to my family, it's always been my mom's side. I do have some family on my dad's side - cousins, uncles, an aunt - but my paternal grandparents both died when I was a teenager, and my dad, an alcoholic, drifts in and out of my life.

My family on mom's side, however, is extremely close and has been the same tight family unit for as long as I can remember. Mom (mom). John (brother). Moma (grandmother). Popa (grandfather). Edie (great-aunt). Aunt Sondra (aunt). Annie (cousin). The unit has of course gotten bigger over the years, first by me with the addition of my daughter and my SO, and then my brother got married and had my nephew and niece. Chelsea (daughter). Dwayne (SO). Carol (SIL). Johnny (nephew). Chloe (niece).

So for all of my 36 years, I've experienced the joys of a close family... The now thirteen of us not only gather for every birthday, every holiday and every summoning by my grandmother, but we also travel, en masse, every year to vacation together for a long weekend to coincide with our family's Decoration Day at our ancestral home. These have been our traditions forever. I can only vaguely remember when our family unit included one more, my great-grandmother (Ma), who lived one street over and died when I was seven. My grandmother still calls her Mommy and cries when she talks about her.

Another of the hard times our family endured was when my dad was stationed in Germany for three years and took us with him. I cried for my grandmother every night for a week, but from what I hear, my grandmother took it much worse, having her babies so far away. My aunt got pregnant and had a baby and my mom, her sister, was an ocean away and couldn't be there with her. My brother graduated from high school in Germany but my grandmother crossed the ocean and came to Germany for that one!

When I graduated from high school and again, from college, my whole family was there to see me. I have been so lucky, my whole life, to have been blessed with my family, no matter how infuriating and annoying I may sometimes find them. They are family, you know!

And since this is Kentucky and everyone has kids when they're teenagers, my grandparents are only 75 and 79 years old. I've been expecting to have at least fifteen more years with them.

So when Mom told me that Moma was being tested for ovarian cancer, it was really the last thing I ever expected to hear.