When I’m home for a family event, at some point I always start to wonder if my family belongs in a sitcom.
Easter this year was spent in my hometown of Chicago. I did normal suburban stuff all weekend before we ventured out to downtown Chicago on Sunday. The day was spent with my mom and dad, Aunt Candy, Grandpa, and littlest brother, Matthew.
We arrived early to ooh and ah over my brother’s new condo before heading off to lunch. Reservations were made at a restaurant within walking distance. And so, six loud-mouthed Polish-Italians all piled into to the Greek Islands Restaurant at noon on Easter Sunday.
And immediately found a way to stand out.
Greek Islands is one of those great authentic restaurants you immediately assume to be family owned. Most of the staff, it seemed, were walking and talking Greeks. Who spoke to each other in Greek. At the host stand. Which was stationed in front of my WWII Marine Veteran grandfather. Who made it a point to ask me, rather loudly, if we were still in the United States of America.
“Grandpa!” I hissed.
More Greek talk.
“I’ll take twelve!” Grandpa said.
More hissing from me. More Greek talk from the host.
“Well…it’s all Greek to me!” Grandpa joked.
(and if you thought this was the last time this was said on Sunday, you thought wrong).
Somehow, being amidst another culture prompted my aunt and grandfather to talk about our Italian heritage and the origin of our family name. We’ve always been told our last name means “House of Many Beds.”
“Yes,” Grandpa continued with his joking, “the first of our ancestors owned a whore house.”
“Grandpa!” me again, hissing, “OR, a hospital.”
He agreed it could have been a hospital, or a hotel, (or a whore house), and I decided to raise the white flag and stop hissing at him. The man is 86 years old, set in his ways, lost the love of his life just under a year ago, and was in a great mood.
Who am I to blow against the wind?
We took our seats and I made sure to sit next to Grandpa.
My mom and aunt are both teachers. Much to my delight, the conversation often steers to entertaining stories of idiotic things children do. For instance, were you aware the “kids these days” rub a thin layer of glue on their hands, let it dry, peel it off, and then eat it?
“Well, that’s a sticky situation.” Grandpa responded to the glue story.
Once I had let go of caring what others thought of our conversation, I managed to get caught in a fit of giggles every quip Grandpa made. Which only egged him on more.
“Well,” Aunt Candy replied, shaking her head at more examples of moronic kid antics “I can’t keep them from doing everything. You can’t even keep them from sticking their fingers in the light sockets anymore.”
“Well, now that story is just shocking!” Grandpa, again, with the jokes. Me, again, with the giggles.
And given how loud we all are, I’m pretty sure by this point all the surrounding tables were trying not to stare. But we just kept going.
Grandpa’s response to biting into an olive that still had a pit in it:
“Careful. If you eat these olives, you’ll get stoned!”
Grandpa’s response to my aunt declaring that eating salmon is good for your skin:
“Now that’s a fishy story!”
We just kept laughing. Laughing over the insane amount of duct tape my aunt admitted to sticking on the outside of her old car to cover up scratches and door dings. And then later, using more of it to repair tears in the seats. And, much later, to fix almost everything else.
We laughed over the first time Matthew used the dishwasher in his new place. And how, when he first went shopping, he didn’t know there was a difference between dish soap and dishwasher soap. The debacle managed to occur at the exact moment every single one of his towels was soaking wet in the washing machine and he was forced to clean up the suds with clean clothes. Thankfully (or not?) enough people have done this before and he was able to Google a quick solution.
We laughed. And ate. And laughed. And eventually hugged and kissed each other goodbye, with promises to see each other soon.
Later that night, when my uncle called him from Texas, my grandpa had already forgotten I had been at Easter.
And despite sometimes believing we may belong in a sitcom, I’m just grateful to have spent time laughing with Grandpa.
Happy Easter, to you and yours.