We all have some of this in our lives. Drama. Sometimes it's ours. Sometimes we get swept up in someone else's drama. Somebody's fighting with someone else. Someone's sick. Someone's nauseated and can barely function (ahem). All flavours and varieties of drama swirl all around us. It's up to us how deeply we engage in the drama, and how we deal with it.
My folks and in particular my Mom's family are experiencing a very special brand of drama. Last year my grandfather passed away. A year later, they're still working hard to settle his estate. We've each had a tough time trying to let go of the material things left behind. Every few weeks I get a call from my Mom telling me about some new she's found tucked away amongst decades of possessions. A box full of letters between my grandparents, baby clothes from when I was little, tools from his shop, and the list goes on. As she clears out the house basically alone (her sister lives a province away), she's facing the daily battle of pleasing everyone and giving away what is left over. After a year, they've finally found a buyer for his house, so now she's been forced to clear things out more rapidly than I think she's ready. I find myself fielding more calls than I have in a while, and I'm happy I can be there for her. My job in all of this is to be a sympathetic ear while reminding her she's doing an amazing job. I don't look forward to the day when I find myself in the same position 100 years from now.
I wasn't terribly close to my grandfather. I loved him. I still love him. But I found him incredibly frustrating. There are days when I see my Mom struggling so hard to make things work that I get so angry. He couldn't even make his passing easy on the family. I have to take a step back and remind myself that he wasn't really prepared to die. His will wasn't up to date. When he passed, his new wife lived in his house for a few weeks before she moved out. When I came with my mother to help in the initial clean-up, the house looked like he had walked out to go to the store and simply never come back. I'm not sure what I expected, but when I saw one of his coats hanging in the closet my heart sank into my stomach.
While I'm home with the kids I have no problem extricating myself from all the drama, even when my Mom calls me in need of some sort of anchor in what feels like an out of control place. I have moments where I find myself lost in it. I give in to those moments deeply because they are necessary. For example, I got a pair of beautiful end tables from his house this past week, and my Mom hadn't had the chance to clear out the contents. In the drawer that would have been facing the wall, I found a stack of anniversary cards from my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary. The stack was so huge it had to be crammed in the little drawer. Underneath all the cards was a handful of pictures of the two of them, by the look of them probably from their 25th anniversary (Grampie still had hair, that says a lot). I was overwhelmed by the surprise. He had gone to such lengths to erase most traces of my grandmother from his house when he remarried. But there, tucked away safely, was a communal memory from the year 2000. The year before my grandmother's Alzheimer's started completely taking over. The last year she was herself. He saved one last personal memory of her when she still was making memories, and tucked them away safely. I couldn't keep my emotions separate in that moment.
I can take the drama. I live with toddler drama. Nothing compares to that. But sometimes, when the kids are in bed, I need to take a moment to embrace the drama and emotion so that I can then let it go. Once I'm a little stronger after coming through the anger, tears, joy, and acceptance, I can be a better support to those who don't have the liberty to just walk away when things get too tough.