Happy Families Whine and Wine

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

–Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“Happy or unhappy, families are all mysterious. We have only to imagine how differently we would be described–and will be, after our deaths–by each of the family members who believe they know us.”
–Gloria Steinem,  Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

“And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”

–Lin-Manuel Miranda

 

It’s a beautiful August evening,

not too hot,

puffy clouds drift across the sky,

pushed and choreographed by the summer breeze,

a lazy August sky dance.

We decide to take my mom to enjoy music

and wine at a local winery,

“Vino and Vibes” they call these Thursday night events.

So my husband drives back and forth through rush hour traffic–

west and over the bridge to Philadelphia to pick her up,

then east, back over the bridge

to the winery.

My mom says the big grey cloud is like the one

that seemed to follow her to the beach the previous weekend.

I assure her that it’s not supposed to rain,

She says it didn’t rain at the beach,

but it did, I say, then let it go

because she says she had a very pleasant day there.

My niece thought that day was a disaster.

This is why witnesses are unreliable–

except perhaps, Sherlock Holmes—

But I have no memory palace, do you?

Perhaps I—

perhaps most people-

have more of a memory vault,

or a deposit box

where deposits and withdrawals don’t always match.

We remember things as we wish,

see them lighter or darker than they were,

brightened by sunshine or darkened by storm clouds

of nature or nurture

or winds of war

or family wars.

 

I think of the variety of families,

nuclear and extended,

single parent, gay parents, straight parents

I think of the movie Captain Fantastic

that my husband and I just saw–

the couple’s desire to create

“philosopher kings” of their six children

living in their own paradise.

But the oldest son cries out to his father,

“Unless it comes out of a book, I don’t know anything.”

But what knowledge they do have!

And bonds of love and affection,

family bonds.

And though I love streaming Netflix and

sitting in my air-conditioned house,

years ago I tried to educate our children—books

over cable TV,

and I’ll never forget the neighbor who asked me

“Is Canada the one above or below us?”

 

Families are born, and families are made.

I learn a loved one’s foster family will be formally adopting him,

he, a grown man, over thirty,

a symbolic gesture,

but sweet and kind and loving.

They were the one who have stood by him,

who witnessed his marriage

when parents by blood chose not to do either

 

And though Tolstoy said all happy families are the same,

it isn’t true–

because all happiness is not the same, is it?

Or is it?

Surely there are differences and degrees

as with unhappiness.

My head aches trying to parse this thought

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love,

and we do many things for love.

Driving distances

and going places we really do not want to go

We say

This is great. I love the view, the food, the people.

Little white lies.

But sitting here,

at this winery,

soft breeze blowing,

I watch my mom

sipping her wine

listening to the musician sing,

tapping her foot to “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”

and “Brown-Eyed Girl,”

And I feel love

and contentment

FullSizeRender 34

Enjoying the Chardonnay

Yes, I’m drinking wine,

and the cannoli help, too,

IMG_4158

Cannoli World–this piece, too, was soon gone!

no doubt about it,

But there is happiness here–

FullSizeRender 35

whether it’s all the same,

I’ll leave that to you.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

21 thoughts on “Happy Families Whine and Wine

  1. Pingback: Happy Families Whine and Wine — Yesterday and today: Merril’s historical musings – albspirit

  2. I clearly remember this quote from Tolstoy; it may have even been the first sentence. Obviously your family fits into the happy category. You are so fortunate to have your mother – and I know you realize this too! 🙂

  3. Have to say that I was blessed to have part of my family, including my 89-year-old mother visit this weekend – one of those fast-and-furious flyby visits – but we did have a lot of fun. And wine, too. Good job on describing the perils of oral history and the dynamics of family!

  4. Love this, as usual, Merril. Here’s my favorite section:

    “But I have no memory palace, do you?

    Perhaps I—

    perhaps most people-

    have more of a memory vault,

    or a deposit box

    where deposits and withdrawals don’t always match.”

    You are much more nuanced than Tolstoy.

    But we have to admit that he knew how to get our attention. 🙂

    Cheers!

    • What a wonderful comment, Shirley. I’ll take “much more nuanced than Tolstoy.” I’m sure there were people there having affairs–maybe I can work that in next time. Not sure about the train though. 😉

  5. Love is love is love. Maybe that’s true of happiness, too, in spite of our perceptions about levels and differences.

    Another beautiful post, Merril. 🙂

  6. My sister-in-law were talking this week about family stories, and how everyone remembers them differently. Yes, take the happiness, and let the other stuff fall away. (K)

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s