All of my subjects responded to their Mama Quest interview requests with varied levels of apprehension and enthusiasm. I started with Aunt Linda, Uncle Harry and Neighbor/Friend Sandra.
Aunt Linda: Papa Joe’s youngest sister. As key confidant of my mom’s in-law inner circle she spent a lot of time with my mom before she passed away. Also, not that it’s relevant, she indulged my love of Barbie for as long as it was age appropriate including but not limited to a Barbie Jeep and Totally Hair Barbie. Status: Married to Aunt Marge. She has two kids, James and Michael. They are not of drinking age.
Uncle Harry: My mother’s younger brother. Bald. Glasses. Humorous. Republican. NRA member. Works for MIT. My mother always remarked that he was very well read. Also, he is the brother she thought was a bastard. Please see this post for more information about my mother’s dreamwish for a different father. Classic Harry: Once Cousin Jon brought a girl home. Always the jokester my beloved Uncle Harry shot a squirrel from the window of their second floor kitchen. Additionally he is an excellent stained glass maker. Status: Married to Aunt Patty. He has two kids, Jonathan and Stephanie. They are of drinking age.
Friend/Neighbor Sandra: One of my mother’s best friends. They shared a love of being cheap and having lots of kids. (Sandra has the bigger brood!) My Sandra memories consist of her taking walks around the block with Mama Alice, feeding me Cheerios while my mom went to the doctor and residing in the capture the flag house.
Now it’s time to respond to their responses. I haven’t spoken to many extended family members much since my mother passed away. There are two logical explanations for this. One, Mama Alice was the glue. She was always the one organizing events and insisting we all congregate in a very 1960s sitcom kind of way. As a young girl who loved…. Wait. Sorry. Hold on. As someone who LOVES any excuse to dress up, I thought this was fantastic and never questioned a single event. Brother Mike, always the pragmatic fellow, viewed these events as people who really didn’t want to get together falling victim to the familial obligation of socializing with relatives. As an adult his attitude has changed which is why I had this thing called brisket on Sunday and found it to be quite tasty. Anyway, she was our organizer. Without her feverishly baking pies and making plans for the next smorgasbord, I would have fumbled along sensing there was some rite of passage I was unintentionally escaping.
The other reason could be me. Who wants to say no to the girl who lost her mother? That accounts for the enthusiasm. The apprehension goes without saying. It’s just plain sad. This dichotomy leaves me wanting two things: to have my idea challenged and to turn this into something purely, for lack of a better word, positive. I think the solution to both is the same. Honesty. Honesty has an incomparable ring to it.
Operation Hot Sincerity is going to need a theme song. My first inclination steers me straight to You Can Call Me Al, not only because my mother was a sucker for Funny Farm, but because Paul Simon’s whimsical jam embodies the emotion I wish my blog to evoke. The themes are different obviously. Middle-aged men goofing around vs. young adult hopelessly trying to avoid sounding self-indulgence without holding back on the sincerity.