Just like my blog name states: true life is stranger than fiction.
I could NOT make this shit up.
Also, my username (and address for this blog) is atxviapgh. ATX is a slang term for “Austin, Texas”, and PGH is commonly known as “Pittsburgh”. I came to live in the Austin area after living 25 years in Pittsburgh.
Sometimes people ask why I choose to move 1,500 miles from everything I ever knew. Friends, Family. Well, my reasons for leaving (at least one of them) was painfully affirmed this past summer.
In a few words…my mother’s family.
Now, I have been a nurse for 10 years. I have worked in ICU, in economically disadvantaged areas, as a nurse at a juvenile detention facility and as a hospice nurse. In my decade of nursing, I have never, ever come across a situation so fucked up, so vile, so reprehensible as the current one with my mother’s family.
My grandfather died suddenly in June. I couldn’t go to the funeral because of my financial issues. In a way, I’m thankful, because I haven’t seen the majority of my mother’s family in 5 years.
I recall clearly the Christmas after I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I could barely get out of bed, but I dragged myself to my grandparents to celebrate with the family. I respectfully declined helping with dishes after dinner, mainly because I was in so much pain and could barely move. My lovely aunts and cousins took it upon themselves to seek me out and berate me for being “lazy”. One aunt even said in a baby voice “is the poor widdle baby too sick to help?”
From that point on, I limited all contact with that part of the family. For the remainder of my years in Pittsburgh, I would rarely see these family members. I would visit my grandparents when I knew no one else was there. Even after Sunshine was born, I still limited contact.
Granted, that wasn’t the first time something nasty had happened with my relatives. I remember one year when one aunt got into a fist fight with another over NASCAR. I’m not kidding you. NASCAR caused fists to fly at Christmas Eve.
So back to the present day. I always knew that all hell would break loose once one or both of my grandparents passed on. Unfortunately my grandfather went first and left my grandma without care. My grandma is really sick and has dementia.
My mom has spent the last three weeks in Pittsburgh. Two days after she arrived, my grandma fell and broke her hip. My mom has been there for her, helping the transition from hospital to nursing home.
My mom was horrified to find out that a few days after my grandfather passed away, my aunts raided my grandma’s jewelry box.
Now, my grandparents grew up during the depression. My grandma was one of 12 kids living in the three bedroom apartment in the Polish Hill section of Pittsburgh. After they got married, my grandfather worked as a draftsman at Westinghouse and was able to “spoil” his wife.
So my grandma had a pretty extensive jewelry collection. She told me time and time again throughout the years that she had written out “who gets what” when she passes.
My aunts decided to circumvent this and took it all for themselves. While she is still living. The cross that my grandma wore everyday…her last gift from my grandpa..is gone. And she is asking for it.
This makes me sick to my stomach. I can’t believe that people who share my genetic material are so vile.
In addition, my cousin is now squatting at the house my grandpa built. She changed all the locks. All of her own volition. She refused to let my mom in when my grandma needed more clothes at the nursing home. Apparently she was instructed (by my evil aunts) to call the cops if my mom ever showed up.
I’m not kidding.
Yes, there are decades of bad blood here. But I have seen a death in the family bring people together. I can’t believe this is happening to my own family.
I am horrified…disgusted. But grateful.
Yesterday, in the great state of Texas, there was a family picnic at the lake. My dad’s side (my dad is now talking to me again) was there. I’m talking, aunts, uncles, cousins, babies. Everyone.
No one got into a fist fight. No one put anyone down. No one got into a screaming match. It was a wonderful day. These people not only love me and have been supportive, they accept my husband and my stepson. It was amazing seeing the contrast between what my mother is going through and the amazing day I had with family yesterday.
This side of the family isn’t perfect. People have their quirks. But it is the real sense of family that I have always craved and really didn’t have while growing up.
I’m grateful that my daughter doesn’t have to see her family get into fistfights. She isn’t scared of one person or another (like I was of my aunts as a child). She feels loved, respected and loves my family in return.
I would like to also point out that both of my father’s parents have passed on. My grandmother in 2004 and my grandfather right after Christmas 2011. No one “raided the jewelry box” no one moved to my grandpa’s house and changed the locks. There were no screaming matches, no threats. My aunt, uncle and father worked together to sell grandpa’s house, and upheld his will as to what to do with his property.
My mom returns from Pittsburgh in a few days. I’m going to hug her, tell her its alright, and that she’s 1,500 miles from those assholes.
My grandpa would be ashamed.