Monday, November 28, 2005

All About My Mother

Death loomed heavy at my folks’ house in Upper Marlboro, MD this Thanksgiving.

Whether it’s knowing that my 93 year old Nana was diagnosed with bladder cancer last week; the small, leaf covered grave of my Annabelle in the backyard; my mom having attended the wedding of her recently-deceased-best-friend’s-former-husband to a woman who also lost her spouse to a sudden heart attack within the last year; knowing that my aunt and uncle -visiting from Connecticut- came by themselves this year because their daughter was just married this past August, and their son died of lung cancer two years ago; listening to and watching my sister talk about her young boyfriend, a captain in the Marines, who was recently stationed in 29 Palms, and is headed to Iraq to command soldiers in February; seeing the box that my pop’s ashes are stored in- downstairs, in the basement, in the room that was mine for a few years (before and after high school) and that my nana now uses whenever she is visiting from Alexandria; or, maybe worst of all, watching my mother, the axis that this family spins on, spend almost the entire time our family was together (Thursday – Sunday), distract herself from the reality at hand by interfacing with the viewfinder, lens, and most importantly (?) the screen of her digital camera. I’ve spent the day trying to reduce the interactions of my family to that of the work of some director- or at least to refer to the weekend as being like a certain movie. In hope of simplifying the experience, distilling what I won’t call madness, what I won’t say is dysfunctional, and what I don’t think is characteristically Italian (or Mediterranean), it was as if I spent 84 hours in a film made simultaneously by Federico Fellini, Mike Leigh, and Pedro Almodovar.