I have come to an understanding. That is that my family situation is unique and extremely difficult. Everyone has a unique and difficult family, but I don't know if they all feel quite as suffocated and stuck and like they've been dealt a terrible hand. A few people I know feel this often and really get it. Maybe that's why we're friends while others slip away. Some think I am overreacting or allowing family to control my life. Maybe they're right, but they tend to have siblings or cousins or some ally on their side.
Last year there was a death in the family and I had to deal with both sides of an ethnically and culturally diverse set of principles and traditions. There was endless arguing and power hunger and mistakes and shame. If I had the information that I do now one year ago, things would be different. It may have been my opportunity to end an ugly generational conflict, but I let things go on as usual so that I didn't have to get involved. I've even lost my voice. I couldn't write about these jerks anymore. They don't deserve me, so why do I dwell on them?
This has been yet another year where I've tried so hard to run away and disregard and say they doesn't matter. Any of them. I hate them. I don't need family in my life. Family is overrated.
But right now, at this very moment my grandmother is in a hospital bed. I've been cavalier about this recently. I've said that I don't want her to suffer. I've said that my mom and uncle would be different people if they didn't have this stress and burden in their lives. I've said that I've been lucky to spend 33 years with her. I've said that I know we have her on borrowed time.
And officially last Saturday my mom saved her life. I was going to lose my grandma last Saturday and the reality has hit home. I am not ready for it at all. It's one thing to speculate and decide what's best, but it's entirely another to know you didn't get enough time together. You will never get enough time together. The time you have spent recently is hard and sad and too much, so you don't do it. All you offer now is the occasional phone conversation.
So we talked about crepes. Apple crepes to be specific. She said she wanted to have crepes with me after she gets out of the hospital. My grandma has an amazing crepe recipe that I've only made a handful of times, with strawberries or apples. The pan I've used for years is destroyed by my careless messiness, and the last time I attempted the crepes they all fell apart or wouldn't stick or I couldn't turn them over. When I told her of my disastrous attempts she laughed and coughed and laughed again. She said that she had three pans that she wanted to give me so I could make them right.
But I don't want her to give me pans. I want her to be better and show me how to do it. I want to be with her in the kitchen and listen to her explain and let her voice stay in my mind forever. There must be a way for her to stand up and show me all the details.
What I learned on the phone was that besides the lousy pan, I had used the wrong kind of apples in the past. I assumed they were Granny Smith, being that those are the quintessential American apple in all baked goods. But no, Grandma hates them. She didn't understand why Americans use them so often since they don't hold their shape or have enough sweetness without sugar. She said that Granny Smith only work in an apple pie because of the thickness of the dough and the amount of apples used. For something delicate like a crepe, Golden Delicious were the way to go. They didn't need anything but a hint of cinnamon and butter and a light saute on a small fire. They were a perfect apple for desert or breakfast. A Golden Delicious apple was all you needed for a rescuing delight. She knows these secrets better than anyone and without her, I would never know.
She wanted to get off the phone, because she doesn't understand how cell phones work and thought the long distance call was costing me a lot of money. I tried to explain that all it took was minutes, but she didn't understand me. I thought, please don't get off the phone. Please keep talking to me about golden delicious things. I don't want this conversation to end. I don't want it to end ever.