This trip is expectedly miserable. I'm exaggerating. It's a slog with some bright points and an extra layer of angst. My dad is in bad shape. He remembers things like how they dug the Panama Canal (did you know a major challenge was that they had to dig through the edge of a mountain?) but not the years or dates of any of his three children's birthdays. I don't know how to explain how I feel about it. I'm sad that he's not quite the same person anymore. I'm happy that he's still around and the flashes of memory he shares are interesting. Last night, he told a long and fairly accurate story about an early phase of his career. He was unclear on some details but other parts were things I didn't know much about. He also asked a few times where I was born...New York, Dad! Patience is the watch word but it's not easy.
I'm frustrated with myself because I get grumpy with people. I'm so good for so long and then, bam, I've hit my limit and I get a little short. DON'T tell me I made a wrong turn! Yes, I know I made a mistake. I will correct it if you give me a chance. I will ask for help if I need it. But those people (stepmother) who are telling me what to do (aka providing helpful suggestions) can't stop either. They are fighting all their instincts to sit quietly by and let me do my thing. What I don't understand about Susan is how she seems to want to maximize the time AWAY from our Israeli family. They are exhausting and spending time at their house means a lot of waiting around--but isn't being with them the entire reason we're here? Shouldn't we be maximizing it?
Anyway. Anyway. Things are ok. Saw my niece who has stopped talking to everyone. I saw her kids, her husband. Everyone seems fine, healthy, happy, and, in the case of the 2-year-old, screaming. I was able to report back to my brother (B2). He was glad but it doesn't resolve the bigger picture, which has to do with my niece's father-in-law. I'm not comfortable getting into it all...but this man is bad news. I was at least reassured that inside the family circle the relationships and behavior seemed normal. Not that one visit can tell everything...or possibly anything. Also she called her sister--the one getting married--the next day. Doubt that had much to do with me, but it probably had something to do with seeing me and her grandparents as a visible reminder of what is going on with the rest of the family. So, she called, and maybe that will be a first step to reconnecting. Being isolated and cut off is painful for everyone. If she can reconnect that will be a start.
What else? A funny thing about this trip is that I am still in touch with my two friends who I text with regularly. One is Marty, who I've coached to being supportive as I unburden the story of Israel. The other is my friend, Dan, who I met a bit over a year ago via a Facebook group. He's 20 years younger than me but we've become quite good friends. He even drove me to the airport! Anyway, he probably texts me once a day--nothing deep usually. We've kept up a more irregular communication while I've been abroad. It makes my travels more enjoyable. I didn't have people to hang out with in Paris, but I had Dan and Marty and the FB group to chat with when I got home after a long day of touring. In Paris, I even met one of the FB group members for a drink! In Israel, it provides that lifeline back home. Helps keep me a bit grounded and maybe I'm less grumpy because of it? Have to work on the grumpiness.
Grateful for: friends, near and far.