We left Sam’s on our way to Paris, Kentucky to see Jessie and the kids.
I was born in Paris, KY in 1965. The old hospital closed years ago. Actually much of the historic parts of the town are closed. Of course they do have a new Super Wal-Mart so life isn’t all that bad.
We arrive at Jessie’s. I get everyone out of the car and up to the door and we knock and…
I say hello and go in. I hug Jessie. I look past her and her mom (Debbie) is sitting at the kitchen table smoking. Her brother Scott is at the kitchen table smoking. Neither of them get up. My aunt shouts hello (she doesn’t have an inside voice). The kids are playing. They say hello and that’s about it. They know me, but I don’t seem them that often so I’m not so sure what they think of me.
And thus begins the standing around not knowing what to say or do.
My mom sits and immediately picks up Jessie’s youngest son. He’s my mom’s favorite and she doens’t even try to hide this fact. My aunt Doo finds a seat. She will sit there for the next 90 minutes and not utter a single word. It’s like she wants to hide in the corner. I hate that it’s like this for her. I do my best to not let her be forgotten.
I stand at the edge of the kitchen. Adam stands next to me.
I’m asked the same questions every time I come to visit.
How’re things in New York?
How’s the weather?
Is it cold?
These questions take about 15 minutes. There is another 75 minutes to go before we can leave.
I’m not uncomfortable there. It’s just the standing around not knowing what to say that gets to me. I know that I will be there until my mom decides that it’s time to go. I’ve learned to just go with the flow.
The one thing that is uncomfortable is that Adam made candy to bring home for my mom, brother and Jessie. This is fine except that Scott, Jessie’s brother is there and we didn’t bring candy for his kids. To make matters worse we’ve brought presents for Jessie’s kids but not for Scott’s kids.
Here’s the deal.
When Jessie and her three brothers were little I bought them presents every year for Christmas. In fact there were a couple of years that my credit cards paid for all the Christmas they got. Even when I stopped paying for Santa I continued to buy them gifts. This continued until I moved to New York. The first year I was there I barely had enough money to come home, I certainly didn’t have the money to buy gifts for everyone. You would have thought I’d run over the family dog. Debbie (the mom) was almost angry. She even went as far as to say she would take me shopping so that I could get them something. I put my foot down and said no.
What I didn’t include in that “no” was that I’d bought all four of her kids gifts since they day that they were born. The oldest was pushing 30 and the youngest was almost 18. Not once had any of them bought me a gift. They barely said thank you. There was some clause that said that I had to give gifts I didn’t get to get gifts. When Debbie offered to go with me to get gifts, I was done. I decided from then on that I would only buy gifts for people when I WANT to buy them gifts. I would not buy gifts because I felt guilty. It was the same time I stopped buying gifts for my brother. ( He’d famously re-gifted a very expensive photography book I’d given him to someone else in the family).
I like Jessie. I like her kids. I like Ronnie, although he can be conservative and send me emails that I don’t like to read. I don’t like Scott. I don’t like how he’s treated my mom. I know, I know his kids don’t have anything to do with it. I do know that my mom would like to see them. I do know that she misses that they are no longer around. Unfortunately, Scott only goes to visit my mom when he needs money or a place to sleep. He lived with her rent free for almost a year and didn’t offer to even mow the grass. My mom has barely seen the kids since he’s left.
So I buy presents for Jessie and her kids. Nothing much. In fact this year we didn’t spend anything at all for them. Adam got them some stuff from his job, I pulled about 15 movies off my shelf that I didn’t watch, and wrapped it all up and gave it to them.
However…since we didn’t have presents for everyone, I pulled Jessie aside and told her that she’d have to come by mom’s later and pick them up. She said okay.
We finally just brought the candy in that Adam had made and shared it with everyone.
After about 90 minutes we left. We took my Aunt Doo back home.
Next stop Wal-Mart.
My brother works at Wal-Mart. At Christmas time they get a 10% discount on everything in the store. We wanted to stock up on Diet Coke and toiletries while we were there.
After Wal-Mart we headed downtown to my favorite restaurant in Lexington.
Ramsey’s. They’ve been around forever and it’s been one of my favorites since it opened. It’s comfort food at it’s best. Let’s hear it for corn bread and honey mustard carrots.
The check arrives.
I don’t pay the whole thing. I think everyone was expecting it. (Adam will be the first to tell you that I often pick up the tab, often when I shouldn’t. We’d already discussed it and we’d agreed my brother and his ex-boyfriend Jerry were on their own.) I did offer to pay for my mom’s. She got pissed when I told her I was paying and threw money at me. She’d actually been a little pissed since we’d arrived at dinner. I took her money but I had a plan.
Back at home Adam and I sat down to finish up my Christmas card list. I was running a little behind. I addressed a card to my mom, put the money inside it, sealed it, put a stamp on it and the next day on our way out of town I mailed her money back to her.
At 5:15 the next morning the alarm went off.
PS…Adam finally experienced some of what I tell him I experience all the time. Adam brought candy home for my mom, my brother and my cousin Jessie and not one of them thanked him. Not one of them mentioned how good the candy was (it’s fucking awesome, and I don’t just say that because he’s my boyfriend). They took it as though it was the least he could do.
See if he questions me the next time I complain about them.