Friday, June 5, 2009

The Honorary Gresham

Today someone sent me a message asking about the profile photograph I use. Okay, nobody did that, I just wanted a solid intro to today's post and was coming up empty handed. Hey, I never promised honesty anywhere in this blog and if you can't just go with it you should be reading something else right now.

Anyway, there's a little square with the heads of myself and my adoring, adorable husband in it right up there on the right and I had to crop the crap out of it to get it to fit. I cropped two giant plates of spaghetti out of the photo that we were holding up and posing with because we love spaghetti and JG's parents are kind of parenty about taking photos at family gatherings and on this day Mama J's spaghetti was on the table and everything was right in the world. (go with it)

Every time I look at the photo I smile. Maybe it's the goofy look on my face or the dorky grin my husband wears in all his photos because he's uncomfortable being frozen in time doing stuff like holding up plates of spaghetti. Or maybe it's the memory of sitting around a family table crowded with the warm and kind people I am still crossing my fingers won't suddenly realize who they've recently let into their pack and revoke my membership. How devastating would it be if in-laws just passed out pink-slips with the parmasean?

I adore them. All of them individually, of course, and together as this one beating mass of heart in which I have become a sinewy member of the team. Under the wings of the matriarch whom I am perpetually in awe of, I furiously take notes in my head about how to keep a family together and safe and happy through brutal devastation and times of emotional nakedness. If Mama's heart is missing pieces for her own lost family, she has surely done well stuffing the cracks with her own children and their children and the memories she has been so kind and candid about sharing with me over the last few years.

Across the tops of salad bowls and clinking glasses is the dad I secretly wished for my entire childhood. Snapshots of him standing beside Top Gun worthy crafts, dashing in his pilot's uniform and smiling eyes behind classic aviator sunglasses, are proudly displayed at my own home and only subtly deviate from the man passing the bread and listening quietly as his children chatter on. "Remember the time when" and "should I have seconds?" and the occasional poo-humor we all agree is appropriate at the table after everyone is sufficiently stuffed. It's Pop who will give you the last piece of bread and then clear the table so the rest of us can laugh and talk and enjoy each other as much as he enjoys observing and remembering.

The couches and chairs are always warm and soft at my in-law's home. There's a place to put up your feet and pillows for under your head when you're stretched on the floor digesting the feast of the day. The cousins giggle in a nearby bedroom, playing with the familiar treasures that Mama J's house promises on each visit and sometimes something new and special. Toys the uncles played with when they were babies, books in which my sister-in-law first found her love for reading tucked in baskets of a comfortable corner.

Their faces and voices warm me and pull me in. Their thoughtful kindness is as rich as the dishes spread on the table. I can't wait to bring another little person into such a wonderful family. I sure hope he loves spaghetti.


MaryAnne said...

Lovely post, sounds like a wonderful family!

I think your profile pic is very cute, I remember noticing it the first time I found your blog.

Elaine said...

Yeah! What she said! Wow, that was a wonderful essay on what it means to be a daughter-in-law in that family. I only wish I could be so eloquent. I'm quite sure there will be no pink slip for you. And of course the baby will LOVE spagetti it's in his blood, on both sides.

Miss you guys, and we're thinking of you.


Jenny said...

Just read this for the first time. Excuse me when I say, BARF!!! :) Just kidding.

Love ya, girl! :)