The dilemma: What kind of relationship should I encourage Nugget to have with my mother, her Nona and the enabler?
Nugget’s sense of belonging when she visits her extended family is evident. The moment we enter their company, she squeals with joy and bolts for them, leaving us behind as if we’re her chauffeurs, and after arriving at her destination, it’s understood that we should make ourselves scarce.
Growing up in Texas, I traveled to Massachusetts for family visits every few years. To their credit, my parents attempted to foster a relationship between us kids and the New England family, but with the exception of an aunt and uncle on my mother’s side, no dice.
In hindsight, I think part of it was that I had heard stories about my grandfather, who softened in his older years but as a young man was an “SOB,” as my father would say. This was our family’s euphemism for a violent alcoholic. And, because he was Irish, his behaviors were romanticized as charming.
As a little girl, my grandfather handled me with care and tenderness, but I felt the remnants of his meanness and I was never comfortable with him. My feelings for him pretty much colored my feelings toward the rest of my family. Continue reading