1000 WORDS ON…THE REST OF THE CLAN
Written: November 19, 2004
NB : The names are not important here, so I’ve changed them all rather than use #’s like Ive done before. It’s more fun that way! This time I used comedians names! I must add that the name Ambrose Hossenfeffer isn’t as far off the original as it looks!
If there’s one advantage to being thousands of miles away from the bulk of your relatives, it’s that it sure makes your weddings cheaper! Since I’m currently working towards my second, such things are important! On the serious side, the long distance has meant that although I have always kept in contact with immediate family where possible, none of them have ever played an important role in my growing up. I will use this chapter to give brief descriptions of the significant players among the remaining family.
AUNTS AND UNCLES
My mother had two adopted brothers, Joseph Jr and Christopher. As my grandparents were approaching forty when they decided to start a family, they had arranged to adopt Joe as a year-old baby before they realized Grandma was pregnant with my mother. Five years later they completed the trio with the addition of Chris. They all lived in Nashua, NH until my grandfather’s first major migration to California in (1957).
Joe was to marry my Aunt Sally-Anne Higuera, and have two children, my cousins Loni and Ron. Chris and his long time girlfriend Brenda Carson had a daughter Mikaela, but tragically he contracted lymphatic leukaemia shortly after we arrived in Ireland and passed away when she was barely four. Today, I remain in email contact with Brenda and Mikaela; they are married to “nice-salesperson-guy” Stan Williams and “son-of-a-preacher-man” Greg Seinfeld respectively, while Mikaela’s little 3-year-old girl Morena makes up the family.
Unfortuantely I seem to have lost all ties with Joe’s side of things. He took the death of his brother very badly it seems, and doesn’t communicate with his sister ever. They are the classic city mouse/country mouse pair that will possibly never see each other again. Loni is on her second husband, having had two children, Charlotte and Jeff, with her first. I’m not sure of Ron’s situation; I think he did get married. Loni and I were trading emails for a while but I have yet to hear a reply from my attempts to inform her that her grandfather passed away earlier this year.
My grandfather’s youngest sister Maggie, who was but five years old on the day of his wedding, still lives in the house they all grew up in at 146 Oak St, Nashua, New Hampshire. If you had to point to an epicenter of my family, that house is definitely it. Her husband Christopher Carrey apparently left her for another woman, leaving her with their three young children Chris Jr, Amanda and Lauren. Maggie went on to meet a long-term companion with the fascinating name of Ambrose Hossenfeffer, who has played an invaluable role in the progress of the family, despite being repeatedly turned down in his proposals of marriage over the years.
Chris Jr lives the bachelor life in Boston, albeit with a curious on-again-off-again relationship with longtime friend Julie. I think Amanda is on her third marriage, and has three children, twins Susan and Rose and son George. Lauren had deep psychological scars and sadly took her own life, but not before having a girl of her own named Marcia in 1988. Today Maggie lives in the house with the 16-year-old and, wait for it, Marcia’s own baby who was born this year.
Poor Maggie’s life has been a tragic one what with her ex husband, her own battles with both cancer and depression, Lauren’s problems and now all of this with the new little one. She really does owe a lot to Ambrose, and I know for sure my grandfather always greatly appreciated his contribution.
I can’t go without mentioning John and Mary Foley. They lived in Needham, Massachusetts, and were brother and sister. They were the only contemporary family members with whom my grandmother kept in touch over the years. When I knew them he was a retired priest and she was a spinster who took care of him despite her own advanced age.
On my travels to the USA I would never go to New England without paying a visit to their house on my grandmother’s behalf. John used to sit with me in their conservatory and ramble on about the “glorious history of Ireland” which he had read about in the seemingly infinite amount of books on the subject that adorned his shelves. Although Mary had a good sense of humour and would often scold her brother for derogatory remarks about people from places like “South-East Asia”, she did not escape my description of the pair as the “Fanatically Fascist Foleys”.
I guess I did an amazing job of hiding the fact that I abhorred their values so much, since when Mary passed away a few years after her brother, she included my name in her will to the tune of 25%. The timing could not have been worse for me, however, as rather than being the married father of two she would’ve thought I was when penning the testament, I was actually an emotionally-confused and newly-separated man with little respect for his own life let alone a sizable inheritance.
THE ONES MY KIDS KNOW ABOUT
This just leaves the people who my children would already know, so I can afford to be brief. Although Sandra’s father passed away several years ago, the positive way her mother Rita and brother John have reacted to our engagement lead me to believe he would have approved.
Despite the pending divorce I still get along well with Ruth’s mother and often have coffee with her when I collect the children. On our wedding day Ruth’s father, now sadly deceased as well, made up for his years of being quiet towards me by referring to me as “a gentleman”.
As for the new additions to the Lee circle, i.e. my biological father Mark’s family in Oregon, I have no idea what they make of me, but I do know they were mad about the kids after meeting them last summer, so we will always stay in touch.
© JL Pagano 2004
NEXT, #7 : 1000 WORDS ON…COUNT KARESHKA