One day Mom said something odd. She shared a quote she'd read, something about "how a daughter's job is to agree with the mother's version of the family history."
I believe I gave her the snake-eye with the eyebrows all askew. It seemed quite out of place. She wasn't dying, and it wasn't prompted by any blog bit she disagreed with. I must have asked what facade she wanted me to keep up. I don't remember any response.
That's my family. I think our family's warts and all have been documented. Changing the history would be impossible and unnecessary.
The in-laws? Some of them will relate a version of history that counters memories I have in my head. They might say, "Remember when A happened? That was hilarious!" and I reply, "No, it was B, and it was not hilarious."
"B? B?! That never happened."
"I was there. I remember it. Gary, B happened, right?"
Gary confirms that oh yeah, 'B,' that was nuts.
And the in-law will say, "No, that never happened." The denial is accompanied by a robotic head shake and steady dead eyes fixed on mine that make my doubt my mind. As if they think I'm about to be hypnotized into a different recollection.
For example, the Kansas City contingent came by recently and they have changed into a dead-eyed Stepford family. The children raved about their moral upbringing, which I don't contest. The they went on and on about how they never were allowed to see R-rated movies.
I thought, "Whaaaa?"
Gary said, "Whaaaa? Sandy, you've been taking them to see R-rated movies since they were little kids."
"I did not! That never happened."
I said, "Sandy, we all discussed it at the time and how -"
"That never happened." Dead eyes. Head shake. Children all shake their heads. Stepford Family.
The conversation went on to how the kids were never allowed play with guns or knives. This is why the kids are so non-violent. And why their Mom is the Greatest.
I do think it's wonderful the kids love their Mom, and I think it's great especially considering they haven't always appreciated her.
Perhaps, I though, that was because they were bitter about non being allowed to play with guns while their mom married a knife-weilding ex-con who chased her naked through their condo, and then later held a gun to the nephew's head, thus violating the ex-con's parole and sending him back to jail. Maybe. Perhaps that also contributed to the non-violence. Or maybe it was the toys.
At the time I said nothing, and that was good, because there was more to come.
The nephew is considering law school in Portland. We gave him some grief about Portand and the hippie reputation and how he'd fit right in.
"Why would I fit in with hippies," he said, "I'm not a hippie. Why would you think I'm a hippie?"
I thought, hmm, the drug addiction and the never bathing and the anarchist political beliefs and the brick-throwing in the war protest...
"You're a pacifist!" Gary said, bless him.
At some point later someone brought up something else from the past and the nephew said, emphatically, "I've changed."
I hope he's changed. I hope it isn't the "history" that's changed.