A Family Gathering*

*Some names and events have been edited for story purposes.

“Donna, I’m at the church. What is this half bowl of pasta salad doing in the fridge, you make it? And where is the ice?” my Aunt Susan asked. She was turning into her party planner alter-ego, Psycho Susan, putting herself in a tizzy while we planned the Big Lunch for Easter.

It occurred every year in the social hall at Nazarene Methodist. A cold, brick building where all of our family events were held because we were too big to fit in Big Mama’s house anymore. And with age, Big Mama got more and more fussy about the kids going in and out of the damn door.

“I know you didn’t make that pasta salad? It wasn’t on the list for you to do.  And why make a half a bowl full? YOU were supposed to bring the ice and the coleslaw. Where’s the coleslaw!” Psycho Susan carried on as she walked back and forth from the main room where two long rows of tables were being decorated by me and my cousin Becky to the kitchen which was hidden behind a brick wall with an open window counter where tea and lemonade urns sat.

Becky and I exchanged looks. Both our eyebrows raised to suggest how high the tension would be when Aunt Donna arrived. Becky was Susan’s daughter and while she loved her mother’s gift of planning and decorating, she also knew to step away when she got ready to blow if something didn’t go according to her plan.

“Donna!”- she continued, yelling in to her cell phone, but the line was dead. And it wasn’t because there was no service out in the woods where the church social hall was located.

“I know she didn’t hang up on me. I know she didn’t!”

Here it comes.

“Now why in the hell would she not get what was assigned to her on that list and only get a half a bowl of pasta salad!”

Becky calmly interrupted, “Are you sure she saw the right list? I think there were two. The one you sent out and the one Aunt Lynn sent out.”

Lynn is my mother. She’s willing to do anything she’s told but she is not organized or on time. She sometimes gets the information crossed that’s supposed to go out and she’s usually thirty minutes late for the Big Lunch every year. Which is why we tell her to be there at 12:30 so we can eat by one.

“What list did she send out?” asked Susan, while she arranged the flowers on each other the long rectangular tables. “I don’t know no other list! I I I I just can’t- I can’t deal with my family today. They’re a bunch of dumbasses.”


To be continued in the morning…



uly 14



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