Saturday, August 28, 2010

Guilt, it plays a part.

I had an Irish Catholic upbringing brought on by a fiery red haired mother, a McCleland, who went to Ireland, found our roots, brought back a guilt shillelagh and beat us when we didn’t want to do something she thought was appropriate.
Mother Mary, how dare her, made us do things together, go places, see stuff, attend boring family functions like my sister’s dance recital, my brother’s ball games, and go on outings to see my grandparents. I can still hear her, “I’ll be damned if you don’t go. For Christ’s sake Larry, we are a family.”
“Then let him go. Better yet, he already knows how this will play out. Tell us now and save everyone the agony.” That’s what I wanted to say.
One of her favorite guilt trips, I lovingly remember, was when my grandparents were 60 years old and my mother was 40.
“Your grandparents are getting older. They’re not going to be around forever. Its Christmas.” (Insert one: Easter, Thanksgiving, Arbor Day,) You don’t know this son, and believe me, they would never tell you, but they have been extremely good to us.” Which brought more guilt for grouping us together and paralyzing the siblings as a whole.
My grandfather died at 84, my grandmother at 95 so for thirty-five years, in my eyes, each Christmas was “Grammy's” last. My mother is now 76, thirty-six years after realizing life is too short.
I’m very glad my mother bored me to death but the urgency might have been extreme, so at what age should one realize something so important as mortality? I would guess when maturity kicks in, which happens through age or incidences in one one’s life.
I wait for the day us baby boomers say 100 is the new 90 and Mother Mary, still hanging in there, keeps telling me I never call.


  1. I miss doing things with my family. we all fell apart after my mother died at 40. This was eight years ago- no need to be sorry, but it reminds me of all the family camping, Christmas parties and such. thanks for posting

  2. 100 as the new 90 sounds good to me!

  3. Nice anecdote, Larry. I wish I had a larger family to share special holidays. For me, Christmas and Thanksgiving Day are very important dates along with my Bday which I consider it a personal holiday. Like you, I recall some anecdotes about the nuns in my school and I do have good memories of them. They were modern and fun. I respected them but I wasn't afraid of them. ;)
    Thanks for sharing this story, it hit close to home. I just became your latest follower so that I can read more stories like this. Cheers!
    P.S. Come and check out my community ;)

  4. Oh, Larry, but you had me laughing. What you wrote was (is) all too true about each holiday and so on. I was born into that so got that tee shirt! But beneath the stories lies the nostalgia for the family unit that was. Bless them all! (My LA story this week is about family. Since you're from a Catholic area, think you'll get a chuckle.)

  5. Uh oh, we're mortal? Great anecdote! Guilt shapes us in odd ways whether imposed from the outside or in. I was the youngest of five, my siblings all much older. I was the one who got all the attention, my own bedroom, etc. Resented? Oh yeah. I'm still out of the loop.

  6. What a wonderful post! And I would be just fine with 100 as the new 90!! My mother is always telling me how she won't be around much longer, and she's only 63. :-)