Monday, April 25, 2005

Yep, it's a holiday all right....

Sunday, March 27, 2005, Easter Sunday
Frank's (Steve's dad's) house

Mom and dad were separated for well over 20 years, but never got divorced. I understood why mom never forced the issue: She was on dad's insurance, for one thing, and for another, she was way too lazy to pursue any project that took more than 3 1/2 minutes.

Over the course of the separation, they both dated other people and made no effort to hide it. When mom was in dating mode, it would be a different guy every month or so, and it was impossible to keep track of them. With dad, the girlfriends would stick around for a few months, a year in a couple of cases, and then one day he'd tell us that Nancy or Judy wouldn't be coming around anymore.

I always thought that dad hoped to reconcile with mom one day. I think that's why he never truly let another woman in. It will be interesting to test that theory now that mom is gone.

Dad has been seeing Anna for a about a month or so, and I can tell that he likes her very much: Every time I talk to him, he'll rush me off the phone because he's got to call Anna, or he'll tell me a 15-minute story involving Anna's problems at work, or he'll interrupt me in mid-sentence to inform me that Anna's daughter just got a new job.

According to my brother Chris, the daughter is gorgeous. She's a leggy blonde, which for Chris is Heaven. I don't usually go for that look, myself. Today, I'll be able to find out firsthand how attractive she is, because Anna is bringing her over for Easter dinner.


"Hello hello!" says a happy voice from the foyer. All heads turn to see her.

She's a short woman, maybe 5-foot-2, with glasses and auburn hair. She's wearing a bright smile to go with her smart flowered dress. I don't believe in auras, but if I did, I think I would like hers: She seems genuinely happy.

Her daughter follows her up the stairs, carrying a covered platter, and right away I can see what Chris was talking about: She is beautiful. She's about 5-foot-9, with shiny, shoulder-length blonde hair and big blue eyes.

"Hey ladies!" says Chris. He and the daughter lock eyes and smile slyly. If I didn't know better I'd think they were fucking, but Chris would never cheat in a million years.

He gets up and crosses the room. Anna is already kissing dad hello, and Chris heads straight for the daughter. "Happy Easter, Amanda!"

"Happy Easter, Chris." She puts her free hand on the back of his neck; they kiss squarely on the mouth. It's just a peck, really, but their body language gives them away: There's all kinds of incidental bumping and touching, and the back of the neck is a very intimate place to hold someone. They want each other badly.

I turn to look at Janet, Chris's wife. She's talking to Nancy, my other sister-in-law, and they seem not to notice.

I look to my right, where Steph is sitting. We exchange knowing glances. Yep, she sees it, too.


We've made it through Easter dinner, dessert, and coffee without any kind of disagreement whatsoever. This has to be some kind of record. Then again, mom is gone, and Aunt Shirley isn't here.

We're all sitting in the family room, watching TV. Dad's got the remote and he winds up on CNN, where they are discussing Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman who had been taken off her feeding tube. Her parents want the tube back in; her husband wants it out, and he claims that's what Terri wanted too.

"That's a damn shame," dad says.

"You're right it's a shame," Amanda says. "I can't believe they're letting them do that to her!"

All the heads in the room turn to look at her.

"Do WHAT to her," I say. "They're honoring her wishes."

"They are denying her basic nutrition. They're starving her to death. That's murder."

There are scoffs around the room. "Oh, Amanda, don't start," Anna says.

"I'm serious, mom, I can't believe there isn't more of an outcry about this! They're MURDERING a defenseless woman!"

"Amanda. Her husband says she wouldn't want to be kept alive this-"

"Her HUSBAND has fathered two children with another woman! He doesn't care about her anymore!"


"No, it's EXTREMELY relevant!" Her pretty face is set in a hard scowl.

"Yes it IS irrelevant, and I'd say you're out of line," Steph says angrily to Amanda.

The heads turn back toward Steph.

Looks like it's on.