Last weekend, I was in Indiana visiting family. I like to say that. It makes it sound like a nice.
Actually, I was going to see my Grandfather before he died. After a bad fall, the towering, quiet man I knew was in a hospital bed in the living room of his home, Hospice care coming every other day and his children gathered around.
After whining about mourning in my writing, the irony that I was now in the middle of it was not lost on me.
Watching the family dynamic was interesting. Who hovered by the bed. Who stayed in the kitchen. Who said what.
The laid back air also surprised me. On the surface, the drama was gone, the blow-up happening off screen before I got there. But the longer I was there, the more I could see the tensions lingering. And the love.
As we sat outside, enjoying a wonderful homemade meal in a beautiful garden, I was struck by how wonderfully play-like the conversation was. By turns, it was funny and sad…and I kept trying to pause it, so I could remember it. Not for memory’s sake but because I thought it would make a great story. I started sizing up my aunts and uncles as characters. If all of them got too bulky to manage, who would get cut? Who would meld?
I felt schmucky at first, but was told by several confidants that that’s what writer’s did. I’m trying to think of it part of my mourning process, my watching others. I suppose it’s a way to remove myself from the situation, to become the cold, keen observer rather than the emotional mess in the middle of it.