Yesterday my mother had to go to the doctor's office for same-day surgery on her knee. Several weeks ago she had a total knee replacement and apparently there were some complications that I don't really understand because I know very little about the human body, especially the knees; I just know there was an infection and some other stuff and it was wrong. So they took her in and did another surgery that involved things like "nerve blocker" and "manipulation" and "make sure you eat and go to therapy tomorrow."
Of course, whenever anything happens to anyone that I'm related to, the entire family immediately descends on the scene of the event like a flock of loud, baking, well-meaning chickens. Chickens that never shut up.
Now, I should clarify that this is mainly my mom's side of the family. My father's mother and two sisters all live relatively close to each other on the Ohio/West Virginia border and pretty much take care of themselves. They have a decent sense of something called "personal space" that my mother's side can't seem to grasp, and they live too far away for us to see them more than a few times a year. My mother's side, on the other hand, pretty much all live within an hour of each other. My grandma lives down the street from my parents, and my aunt and her family live in State College, where I go to school. This turned out to be pretty convenient, especially recently since my mom has had so much trouble with her knee. There are plenty of people to help out when she needs to go somewhere, especially since my dad is travelling a lot right now, my sister can't drive, and my brother is at school like me. I should also probably insert here that my grandmother has started seeing a nice man recently and this gentleman friend has been worlds of help to us and is pretty much included in every family function these days.
But back to the chickens. When we do get together -- and we use anything as an excuse to see each other: surgeries, graduations, plays and musicals (my cousins and I are all involved in theatre on and off), just passing through town, business trips, holidays, you name it -- when we do get together, we greet as if we haven't seen each other in years and descend on each other like a smaller, more Irish version of Toula's family from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Instead of a million of us, there are ten, but that does mean we're any more quiet or eat any less than her family does.
I could write an entire book on the things that my family does that they think are normal. Just last night we all went to dinner after my mother got out of her surgery. We promised the nurse that we would get her to eat, so we took her to Perkin's; but not because we couldn't cook anything ourselves. On the contrary, Grandma actually had a casserole in the back of her car. The problem was that the casserole needed to cook for an hour, and Mother needed to eat now. So we went to Perkin's. But just because we couldn't go to Aunt's house to eat didn't mean that no one was going to get casserole. Instead, Grandma came prepared: two Tupperware containers and a spoon. After dinner she popped open the trunk and stood there in the dark parking lot, spooning servings into the Tupperware and passing them around like some sort of casserole pusher.
This is just one example of the things we do. We also (mis)quote movies obsessively, refuse to take money from each other, and fight over who pays the bill when we all go out to eat. This usually results in someone threatening the waiter to a) not give them a tip, or b) forcibly tie them down, if they don't give them the check. This also results in a lot of frightened waiters that we leave behind when we're done eating.
Seeing as I'll be going home for the holidays soon, I'm sure that I'll be experiencing a lot more of these antics over the next several weeks. I'll keep you posted.