So today was a great day with a friend and my daughter. We went to the Philadelphia Flower Show. I realized quickly that the theme was Holland. Whenever I think Of Holland I think of my Aunt Meep. She was from Holland, born and raised, even taught me some Dutch. She and my Grandmother went back to Holland and brought me back a pair of wooden shoes that I would wear everywhere, much to my Grandmother’s chagrin. Especially when I wore them in a Florida Mall where they echoed for days against the tile.
I remember many times going to Aunt Meep and Uncle Harold’s house to go swimming and Aunt Meep would have me pick mangos from the huge tree in their back yard. I was never allowed to have any because she was afraid I may be allergic. I am not and it would have been wonderful to share with her. Whenever someone mentions Holland I think of Aunt Meep and all the things she must have gone through to come to the U.S., however I was always aware of a sadness in her eyes.
As we left the convention center my Aunt Mary called me, but we were navigating the busy streets of center city Philadelphia with my friend and daughter. I knew the call would not be good news and dreaded that it would be my Grandfather. When I arrived home I made the call and found out it was my Uncle Harold, Aunt Meep’s Husband. Uncle Harold was an amazing person with a huge heart. He was someone who created a lot of things out of nothing, and a man who would stand tall to help someone in need. He was sort of a second Grandfather to me, and his family was EXTREMELY close with mine. They all moved to Florida together and Uncle Harold would help keep my Grandfather safe on the commute to NY from Florida every two weeks.
All the kids were basically raised together, and to a large degree it was hard to separate one family from the other. Over the years there seemed to be a resentment with different parties, but that also happens in all families. However when I think about the 4 of them raising 6+ kids as a united group, with issues, but united, I find it all amazing. The way they had each other’s backs, all left NY together and moved together, kept a close friendships and really took on the world and created lives for their kids together.
I had a different view of the dynamic growing up. For some reason it was a mixed up version of the Flinstones. Uncle Harold and My Grandmother should have been Barney and Betty Rubble. Aunt Meep (bright red curly hair) and my Grandfather should have been Fred and Wilma Flinstone. I cannot explain why, but that always made more sense to me.
At this time the only surviving member of the 4 is my Grandfather, and I know that will not last for long. Especially with his life long comrade has past. My Grandmother was the first to pass and that was difficult for me. Especially since her body went long before her mind and that must have been devastating for her, but she faced it with strength and grace as much as possible. She also faced it with the heart of an onwry Irish lion that kept kicking and was not going to go quietly into the night.
When I think back on all the stories that were told at family gatherings, the feats these 4 people accomplished without the luxuries we have today, it hurts my heart to see how much we all waste. These are people who dealt with the depression, and famine,and major wars and major diseases, but fought through all of that to make a life for their children.and create a future. They built mini empires by ensuring their children had options.
I remember one story where my Grandmother contacted the head of a base where one of her children were stationed and got him out of harm’s way. Without the internet access we have today, and nothing but determination, she made sure her eldest son survived. He probably was angered by that, but that is what a mother does.
I also remember my Uncle Harold standing in my Grandmother’s dining room backing my Mother down and threatening to send me to another country if she tried to rip me out of my life. I also know that he helped my Mother buy the house that allowed us to live together because he was a man who did what he could to help us all. He and my Grandfather were the type of men that have been forgotten by today’s society. Aunt Meep and my Grandmother are the type of women we romanticized, but no longer have the courage to be.
Women now financially and emotionally support their men. Men are content being unemployed or jumping from one crappy job to another and complaining the whole way. Women are now content to sit back and allow things to just happen so they can post the woe is me garbage on Facebook and other social media. Men are allowed to have children and leave everything for the Mother to do, women are now allowed to have children and abandon them after giving birth. There is so joy in accomplishment or surviving hardship and our children have become annoying accessories in many cases. Or they are excuses for why you are not more than.
You should all be ashamed of yourselves. What would the people who sacrificed for you to have what you do say if they were to look at your life? And yes, they have every right to judge you and your choices. They actually made sacrifices. They actually worked their behinds off so you can sit back and complain on Facebook instead of getting of your arse and making them proud.
I also just found out that my aunt had to go as far and taking legal action against a cousin for unpaid student loans. This Aunt knew at 5yrs old what she wanted to be when she grew up and everything in her life was sacrificed and directed towards that one goal. And she kicked ass at it. She is also the person that handles all of the hard things in the family and gets a lot of garbage for it. She deals with the brunt of blame where she should not, she is one of the most sensitive members of the family, but so many do not see it. No one ever cuts her a break or makes sure she is okay because she is supposed to be the strong one. Guess what, sometimes the strong need to be allowed to be emotional too. They are entitled to break down and fall apart to. All of us are most responsible to care for the strongest the most, not take advantage.
Apparently she signed for student loans for a cousin, and has faced significant credit and financial loss due to trying to help him out. The worst part is this cousin is making over $100k a year, plus his wife’s income and cannot pay back his debt. To be clear, he has 4 kids at this point… however with only me making $34k and paying out $14-17k in childcare expenses I am still able to make ends meet. How dare you put someone who helped you into a financial hardship. Grow up and be and adult. You my cousin, should feel very ashamed of yourself.
How did we go from a nation of people who found ways and worked hard together to raise children and raise each other up to the pathetic lazy slobs who think the Kardashians are some sort of royalty? How is it possible that we have so many opportunities that were never afforded to generations before us, but we are so fat and lazy while whining about it being everyone else’s fault. If the generations that raised us were in their right minds and could understand what we have become, I bet there would be a lot of trees missing branches and a lot of switches being used to get us to stand tall.
R.I.P. My family members that have been lost in recent years. I am sorry I have not lived up to all you have sacrificed for me to have options. I do appreciate all you gave and did.