Thursday, May 20, 2010


When I went up to Mamaw's memorial service last weekend, I got to spend some time with Marie's kids.  I've spent time with all four of them, in various singletons and configurations, over the last six months.  But this was the first time I was with all four of them at the same time.

My older brother and I grew up with Michael and Jenny (on the right in the photo).  Jenny was a few months younger than my brother, and Michael is a few months younger than I am.  Boom-boom-boom-and-boom.  Just like that, two best friends were married and had four kids between them by the time they were 22 years old.

Toby (on the other side of Jenny) came along right around the time my little brother Jason did.  Freaky, right?  Then, sweet Jake, oopsy-daisy!  Jacob was born shortly after Mimi's tubes were tied.  D'oh! :)

Looking at them is like looking at a warped, slightly "off" mirror.  Boys where there are girls, girls where there are boys, but they are just like us...if we were wildly attractive.  They are our "tribe".  I've had that thought many times over the last few months, as we go down the bitter path of Mimi's illness.  It's not just her kids...I have a baby blanket made by her mother-in-law for me when I was born.  One of the speakers at the service was talking about how "all the grandkids" called Mimi's mom "Mamaw", and I realized that's what we called her too.  Mimi's own brothers and sisters are woven into our family history, even as my own aunts and uncles are. 

You could split in two from laughing so hard when everybody gets together...From "Close Call Albert", who has accidentally shot every person (guns, arrows, you name it), and wrecked every car (boat and bike) anyone ever owned or borrowed; to my godfather, Glenn, who was Peter Pan ~ for real! ~ to all of us having to survive the trauma that was Mimi's second marriage...the stories are dark and twisted and, truly, hilarious. 
This is Michael John.  He looks exactly like his father.  It's...unnerving, honestly.  He is, and always has been, a total honey.  I adore his wife and their son.  Their son?  Almost exactly the same age as my Tommy!  What the what?

Anyway, once when our parents were younger, Glenn had this idea to move his whole family to a commune.  He thought it would be the best thing, ever!  Everybody chipping in, living in teepees, and going off the grid.  He spent his whole life chasing that dream, in one form or another, but Mimi was far too bourgeoisie to ever be as enthusiastic as he was about such a lifestyle.  This was a woman who color coded the kids' clothes in their dressers.  She was not going to live in a teepee.  But, as Michael grew up ~ and out on his own ~ he and Keiko were part of the SF Mime Troupe for YEARS and lived the bohemian lifestyle Glenn so adored.  They were broke and happy.  The dream, indeed.

Still happy, but having moved on to more "vagabond" than "bohemian" (they bought a 'fixer-upper' in San Francisco that has them jumping from temporary housing to temporary housing) and now gainfully employeed and even, for Michael's part, considering giving up his actor's union card and fees, I can't help but think that Glenn would still approve.  Glenn was happy when you were happy.

You know what this picture reminds me of?  It reminds me of when we were little, and the four of us were playing a game...maybe it was "Kings and Queens" or something about a castle?  Anyway, George (my older brother) and Jenny were going to be the King and Queen (of course, as the oldest, they always got to be The Boss!) and I know for a fact that George was stoked to be playing opposite Jenny in this role because Jenny was, is, and always will be, so sweet and adorable.   But I secretly thought that Michael must be so disappointed to be saddled with me, as I was dumpy and freckled and, well, let's just put it right out there, I was filthy.  A real dirt-magnet, no matter how many wet washclothes my mom toted around in tupperware, seconds after being hosed off I was literally covered in dirt.   I was like that until high school, dude.  Who knows?

Anyway, there was no sense of "pairing off", I mean, I was like six or something at the time for heaven's sake, but there was still this impending sense of disappointed that (at least in my head) Michael must have been feeling.  But you know what he did?  He and I had gone downstairs to get something from our mom's, and as we came back, he put one hand on the doorknob and he gave me this exact same look that he's got in this picture, and he said, "Let's go, princess!" and in that moment, I felt...beautiful. 

Plus, as I recall, we kicked their butts in the royal battle. 


  1. From color-coded closets to commune. That must have been tough. It sounds like something my late husband would have pushed for. Me: No thank you.

  2. Ha! Juls, that's too think you know a guy you've never met, but...I never would have guessed that about Tom! :)

  3. Tears in my eyes. Big hugs for you. I know how much Mimi means to you and your family. xoxo