Readers, I get tired of repeating myself, no one listens, but
it can't be helped. Madrone, you keep asking me , what do you mean by
family? My neighbor's cousin Dolly adopted a boy from one of those countries
where terrible things happen…is that family? Or Sylvana treats
her husband's aunt like it was her mother... is that right? Well, first
let me say for me, family is blood. What can I say, in the village where
my people came from, a stranger was someone you didn't have blood ties
with, and we didn't marry strangers. Most people have eight great grandparents,
I only have four. It's true, my hand to god.
I can tell you who is MY family and don't try to tell me otherwise.
Which is what I'm saying…no one can tell somebody else who is
or isn't their family. Oh you can try, but it doesn't matter. It's beyond
both your understanding and your power to change. But once it's decided,
the rules are the rules. End of story. . So now where were we?
help me decide what I should do. My sister Rosa is married to a guy,
who shall we say, makes a gorilla look piccolo. He has a good heart,
not malicious. He is strong, who doesn't like a strong man, that's how
it should be. Unfortunately, last month, at a family barbeque, he decides
to demonstrate his muscle by grabbing my brother Frankie's wife around
the neck and nearly choking her to death. Frankie's wife was more than
a little put out, I can't say I blame her, I thought her eyes were going
to pop out of her head if she didn't suffocate first. Rosa says he meant
no harm, Frankie's wife should get over herself. So here's the problem.
Frankie's wife pressed charges against Rosa's husband, and I am in the
middle. Who should I side with?
comsi comsa, you know what I'm saying? You could say it's between your
brother in law and your sister in law, neither of them directly family,
so let them kill each other, unless of course it was at your house,
and you may have rules about that, in which case you have a beef with
them both. However, each of them is married to a relative of yours with
equal claims on your allegiance How to decide?
of any kind, can of course be wielded for its own sake, that's why it's
power. But just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
For a family to run smoothly power must be used only in the interests
of justice and safety. If the throttling was whimsical, as you describe,
then you must side with Frankie and his wife. Whatever you do, though,
someone will be angry with you, double if you do nothing. That's how
that goes. What were they eating? You might want to avoid that next
time you barbeque.
friend, who is a teacher, and a real stand up guy, runs a tight ship
in his class and in his home. He has, however, a dead beat sister. Their
mother does everything for her and nothing for him... that's another
situation, I could go into, but not now. The whole family is together
at Thanksgiving, and the sister's kid bites my friend in the arm, so
much so there's blood. My friend smacks the child, and reports to me
that the mother AND the sister yell at him, and care nothing for his
bloody arm. Madonna! Is this not a disgrace?? What can he do?
rules of family, you may not slap your sister's child without her permission.
You may remove, gently, the teeth of said child from your arm, or the
arms of your own children, but it is your sister's job to do the slapping,
not yours. He only has three choices. Take it up with his sister, which
is iffy, she is raising a brat who bites people and she doesn't see
the problem. Or stop going to Thanksgiving dinners, altogether, drastic
but effective. Or let it pass, and blow off steam to his friends, who
may listen sympathetically but under no circumstances should say out
loud that he genetically related to idiots.
If you would like to ask The Godmother for help, send your questions
(exchange @ for x in address line.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Monk is a full time faculty member of Penn State University, where
she teaches creative writing, both fiction and non fiction. She
pursues freelance writing, authoring plays and feature articles.
She has broken nearly as many rules of family as she has enforced.
Rules of Family Archive