I think it's over..for the most part.
Gavin let me take a three hour nap today and that may have saved my life. No more cough. No more sore throat. I even got to attend my Grandmother's 90th Birthday Party tonight without the fear of killing her. Yes, wouldn't that be a fun way to go..your granddaughter poisoning you with the Swine Flu with all the blood relatives there to witness it.
Gavin stayed home with the baby and Shelby. I took Dalton, who was so happy to leave the house, he didn't care if we were going to the Old Lady Bra Shop..he just wanted OUT. He had a great time with his older, cool cousins. They sucked out all the helium from the balloons and ran around talking in voices that were just a squeak higher than their normal voices. It was hilarious..let me tell you. That one never gets old.
We got photos taken with my Grandma, who found the photographer to be hil-ar-e-ous. She would just bust a gut in between each take, like he was flashing her. We ate a "homemade dinner" in the Function Room of my Grandma's condo complex. This is supposed to be a "ritzy" room, but no matter how many times they redecorate it, a drop ceiling from the 60's is a drop ceiling, and they're not fooling anyone with those silk trees in the corners.
By "homemade" I mean, Sandra Lee style, which is the way the Johnson's do "homemade"...meaning, someone or some machine made the food...and we arrange it to look homemade. My step-dad did homemade beans, which he is famous for. And they are so amazingly good, that you just try not to think about the seven and a half pounds of brown sugar that got them to taste as good as they do. The meat was from the Honeybaked Ham store. Someone made a salad, that had tomatoes and raspberries. It must have come from my mom. For some reason, she thinks that it's OK to mix berries in to any salad...like that is just going to kick it up a notch and make it really chic. Little does she know that that is TOTALLY against the salad handbook, and you should not stick berries in a salad, if it has carrots and tomatoes in it. Sorry, some things are never meant to go together..carrots and berries in a salad..that's one of them.
If you were at my Grandmother's Birthday Party tonight, you would have heard a lot of good stories. That is one thing all Johnson's are known for. We heard great tales...some of them taller than others..about my Grandmother. Tears were shed. That's expected. Sometimes you gotta know how to bring a story home, and tears are the way to deliver. My Uncle, who is a surgeon, talked about how he met my Grandma. She was a marriage counselor, and was counseling him and his wife. She advised him that he should not stay married. She said that she had never counseled that to anyone before. Instead, she said that he should marry her daughter who was newly divorced. He did. Years later, he operated on her arthritic hips, and tonight he told us that if we thought she was beautiful on the outside, we should see her sinews! She had the most beautiful arthritic hips of anyone he'd ever operated on.
Another Uncle and a cousin talked about being scarred by seeing her naked in their teens. I shared the story of being with her when I was a child, and visiting her at her downtown condo. We'd get a baked potato at the ZCMI food court, walk to Mormon Handicraft and buy some crocheted item, and then I'd get to swim in her pool. It was heaven.
My Mom talked about how her life was spent in service to others, whether it be the thousands of people she counseled, or helping her kids during their various crisis's. My Aunt told the story of how my Grandmother would call you an idiot out of love. And one day she said, "Lori, you idiot!..." and Lori knew she was in.
An Uncle talked about my Grandmother getting mad, when he was young, and threatening to beat him with a broom. And how his goal in life was to have as many people love him as love my Grandmother. My Step-Dad talked about how my Grandmother was the only one he knew who could have a conversation about sex while the Mormon Tabernacle Choir played in the background, and she bore her testimony (probably about sex).
She laughed and laughed, listening to all the stories. She was my best friend at one point in my life. I am glad that I was able to go. You know how every family has the creepy uncle? Well, I have a few. Not so much creepy, just socially retarded. One Uncle, who is not aware of physical boundaries...likes to have full-body hugs, where he is rubbing your back and cooing in your ear about how beautiful you are, while you (like a cat) try to break free of his hold. Then there's the one who asks you how you are liking living back east, even though you've been back in Utah for four years now, and you've told him that every time you've seen him over the last four years. And there's the one who wears vests with animals on them and cowboy boots...like one wasn't a big enough sin on it's own....and gold jewelry.
There's the cousin who is so socially moronic that he comes up to me at the end of the party and asks me who put mascara on Dalton. I decode this to mean that Dalton has great lashes (which he does) and so I smile and agree. Then he asks where he got his Chinese eyes, while at the same time grabbing his eyes and pulling at them, making them look like slits. I am looking at him, wanting to punch him in his bloated neck. But since I do have some social skills, I say "Yes, he does have MY almond eyes, doesn't he? Those come from my Dad's side of the family." My other cousin tries to make the situation less awkward, and changes the subject.
Another cousin asks me how I am feeling, and when I tell her that my entire family has been sick, she screams, "Not the Swine Flu!" I say "Yes," to which she bursts out laughing in reply. This is a lovely character trait that the entire Johnson Family possesses- the ability to have a nice gut laugh over another's misery. It's true..there is nothing funnier than you stubbing your toe, and doubling over in pain..unless it's followed by something even better- like you swallowing your tongue or bleeding out your eyes. So, I should not have been surprised by her idiotic reaction..but I may have slipped in something like "Yeah, the baby almost died" just to show her that I thought that she was a social moron.
My problem is that I have been away from these family members for long enough, that I now see them without the rose colored glasses. And even though we share some DNA, I sometimes feel that I may have more genetic code in common with Lucy the Ape, than with these people. Dalton, however, could not have been more happy. The tears, the laughs, the prayers, the helium, the sugar, the stories...he loves a good crowd. As we left he told me how fun it was, and how happy he was that he'd come. It sure beats the Swine Flu.