New information gleaned from folks during visit thus far:
My mother has four stepsisters whom I had never heard of before. Now, for some reason, when I was a child, my mother withheld basically all family history from me on the grounds that I was “too young to understand.” This has left me with a fragmented understanding of my family tree as she also confusingly insisted that I call all of her female friends when I was growing up “auntie.” My dad skipped out on us when I was three, and family information from his side was, consequently, a bit sketchy as well. Hence, when my doctors ask me about my medical family history, I stare blankly and go “ummm.” I actually have a better idea of my step-dad’s family tree. Anyway, two of these newfound step-aunts have passed on, both apparently to breast cancer. It leaves me feeling quite strange, knowing that I had kin I could’ve met who have died before I even knew their name. You’d think, since they were strangers to me, that it would leave me unaffected, but I feel quite sad that I never got a chance to even talk to them. . . . And I still don’t know their names.
My mother also keeps in touch with my aunt’s husband, a man who I didn’t know existed. Obviously my aunt was married, she has two kids–my cousins–and they all lived with us for a while (which, I suspect, is the only reason I know about them) but her husband was never mentioned. I thought he was either dead or some sort of nefarious super sekrit military operative of which One Did Not Speak.
My mom’s taken up belly dancing. She introduced me to dance, had me taking ballet lessons when I was three, and she’s always done Tai Chi, so yeah, a lot of kinesthetic appreciation when I was growing up. But now she’s doing belly dancing. I am inordinately amused. I bet she doesn’t wear midriff-bearing outfits to class, though.
Things that made me go huh:
In the course of their visit, my mom grabbed one of Hobkin’s hind legs (while he was napping, so she didn’t knock him over or yank him off his paws or anything), and commented that it had plenty of muscle, that this would be the tasty part to eat. She also said that his fur would make a nice coat, and upon seeing his teeth, wondered whether his fangs could be filed down so they weren’t so sharp, and as a corollary, whether we had a muzzle for him. Err. She likes animals, really she does. More amazingly, Hobkin continues to like her, even though she wants to muzzle him or file down his teeth, or turn him into a casserole or a coat.
My folks have a very different philosophy on supervisory philosophy. My step-dad’s is much like fosteronfilm‘s and mine, namely: In the end, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. My mom thinks you should whip your subordinates into shape so they can take over from you when you leave. It sounds like she yelled out, threatened to fire, and intimidated her staff when she was working–which, uh, sounds a lot like her parenting style. My folks get into arguments about my step-dad’s work. He’s kept on as a consultant at the university where he was a professor, so they call him in for the really hard stuff they can’t solve themselves. My mom wants him to delegate the most recent project, which is apparently a pretty complex and tricky one, to his students, but he doesn’t think they can handle it so wants to do the key parts of the research himself.
They really want me to visit China. And I’m wanting to more and more, thanks to my step-dad’s influence. The gardens, and palace, and great wall, and the history of the place just makes me go all “oooo.”