The Matriarch

A wave of sadness has come over me as Easter is approaching. I log onto Facebook, and a memory from 10 years ago pops up.  I see a picture of my  son on Easter, and think…so much has changed over the years. The picture is taken at house that is a distant memory of a family that no longer exists. It’s weird how life changes.

Going back to my own childhood, I always remember that we had to go to my grandma’s on Easter, and all of my aunts, uncles, and cousins were there. The house was full of activity. Women were talking and working in the kitchen, the men usually found some handyman project to complete, and the kids just kind of awkwardly hung out. Most of us didn’t want to be there, but everyone went because Grandma JJ insisted. As the kids turned into adults, and grandma was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, we broke away from this tradition. We were losing our matriarch.

We no longer had Easter at my grandma’s, and it felt empty. As my grandma’s memory was fading, we were trying to make new memories without her being in charge. At this time, I had a 5-year-old daughter and a new baby, so it seemed like a natural transition for my mom to take on the role as matriarch for our family. She started hosting the holidays and picked up where my grandma left off. This worked out well for a few years, but then my dad started spiraling into his prescription drug addiction, and my parents lost everything.

They moved in with me for a year, and I became the matriarch of the family holidays for that year, and that was fine with me as long as we were together. As long as we were still a family. The picture of my son was at this time. This was ten years ago.  I vividly remember my parents helping color the Easter eggs and letting the kids run around for the Easter Egg hunt. I have a picture of my sister and me on my back deck, and I remember it being a happy day.  It wasn’t the same as going to my mom’s or grandma’s, but we still had each other, even with my dad’s addiction.

My parents moved out shortly after that Easter, and things weren’t getting better for them.  In the couple of years following, I got divorced, met my current husband, moved an hour away, my sister got married, and my dad and grandma passed away. People who have shaped me are no longer there. Needless to say, holidays have not been the same.

Now we are attempting to hold onto some of the traditions from the past, but too much has changed. We have become disjointed in ways that can’t come back together. This doesn’t mean that we don’t still love each other, but we can’t go back to the way life used to be. This year my mom will be going to my sister’s with her husband and daughter, and I will be at my house with my husband and children.

I am going to be the matriarch of my family unit on this holiday, even though I’m not ready for this title. I just hope to fill my house with the love and happiness that I remember having as a child. I need to let go of what used to be, and be grateful for what life looks like today. Family is different from what I thought it would be, and I have lost a lot over the last ten years, but I have also gained so much, and I am grateful every day.  So I better get cooking, cleaning, and coloring Easter eggs because my family is counting on me.

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