I’d like to finish off my look at the characters of the Unauthorized Liographies by seeing how the Pattersons’ lives affect their grandchildren.
You can tell that it’s getting close to a greeting card holiday here at what Aunt April still calls Casa Foob; that’s because Dad is staring at old photos (heh. I still catch myself calling’em ‘foegaffs’ like Robbie did from time to time back when we were kids) and wondering why my paternal grandparents’ image didn’t carry over into reality. It always seems to get him down that the pictures of a perfect Canadian family he sees weren’t his reality and I just don’t know how to cheer him up. That’s….well…..because I never really got to know Grandpa John or Grandma Elly.
This always baffles people when I say it because they lived a couple of blocks away. This is because they don’t know that I’ve been in the same room with both of them AND been thousands of klicks away at the same time. The thing I find so hard to describe to people I know is that Grandma Mira, the “domineering monster social climber” of Mom’s old nightmares, took the time out of her day to show up with her unwelcome new toys, unwelcome treating me and Robbie as if were people and unwelcome new stuff while Grandma Elly could just never find the time. My earliest memories of this place where I live involve Grandma Elly sitting on her bottom drinking coffee with Mrs Poirier complaining about how much time we children demanded of her. That being said, I at least remember her; Grandpa John seemed to be like a sitcom character whose actor was being difficult in that they always talked about him but you never quite got to see him. For the first few years, he seemed to be a ghost who haunted a toolshed in order to hide from everyone. Why some of the people who've been there since the go-go Eighties call him Potty Guy years after his passing might hint as to why.
The reason that I mention this is that he and Grandma Elly seem to have had a bad habit of mind that kinda messed Dad (whp still answers to Laptop Guy) up a lot; from what I’ve been told, Grandpa and Grandma Patterson acted as if when Dad, Aunt Liz and Aunt April were born, they all showed up one day and said “Hey, mind if I freeload off you for the next eighteen or so years and never help out and pretend to be helpless?” This makes Father’s Day into a sort of downer for all of us. Every year, the need to do something nice for Dad runs into a brick wall called “No, you don’t owe me this nice thing” because of his need to shout down a fading voice from the Great Beyond that wouldn't admit that any debt in the arrangement goes forward into the future and not backward into the past and has to do with him owing Society a solid citizen. (Mouthful courtesy of Grandma Mira) He’s getting better at accepting generosity but the first years after the break with his folks were a hard time to be nice to him. I mean, it’s nice that they have ‘days’ for boys and girls elsewhere but that doesn’t make up for tearful commentary about how no days are kids’ day here in Canada. I do NOT want to be THAT person but it was more fun when he himself was a ghost who let stuff happen than a hovering, mournful presence talking about what a bad person he was for not being there mentally.
Oh. Before I sign off, I should tell you that Jimmy and Francie have to listen to the same ‘you don’t owe me anything’ speech from Aunt Liz every Mother's Day. Also, they get the by-the-good-book chat from her friend Dawn. Heck, even Aunt April might have a child she actually owes soon enough. As for me and Robin, we hope that cleaning out the crawl space is going to go unremarked upon this year. Maybe then, the grandparents will finally shut up. TTFN and BYOL.