family and friends reunion road trip: day four: birthday party at a winery

This was another big family day, and a wonderful one. 

We took Kai and Cookie to a dogsitter who we found through Rover, the Airbnb for dogs. She has a sweet little older house with a big fenced-in yard, and was very relaxed and easy-going. I had already told her about Cookie (a/k/a She Who Cannot Be Contained), to be on the alert for digging, and to keep her double-collared on walks.

This was the first time these pups have been left at someone's home, rather than a doggie daycare place where there are lots of other dogs to distract them. They seemed perfectly happy and comfortable, trotting around in the backyard, sniffing everything, and we made a quiet getaway.

My brother and sister-in-law had booked a private room at a local winery. The food was very good, the wine was cold and plentiful, and the company was outstanding. My brother asked me to make the toast, which was a fun challenge, since I hadn't prepared. It seemed to go over well.

My mother seems somewhat overwhelmed by all the goings-on, but also seems very happy. She had presents for my own birthday, including this cute "librarian bookend".

When we picked up the dogs, they were (of course) thrilled to see us, but they were also relaxed and not stressed. The dogsitter said they were well-behaved and no escapes were attempted. At night they were completely wiped out from their big adventure.

I've said this many times in this blog: I didn't grow up in a particularly happy family. Certainly there were good times, and I do have many happy memories. But the head of the family was a tyrant and a bully, and also mentally ill (although there was no awareness of that at the time). His issues and behaviour controlled our lives in myriad ways. Family gatherings were generally riddled with anxiety, fear, and abuse. These fun, happy family gatherings, free of fear and anxiety, are something I've only experienced as an adult. To both love and like my family is something I am truly grateful for.


Amy said...

Having researched many families over the last ten years and talked to many living distant cousins, I've learned that it's a very rare family that has not been affected by the mental illness of at least one family member. And in most of those families, there is estrangment and life-long pain and anger (including mine). You are lucky that your family has found the strength to move forward and love each other so well. And kudos to Cookie for not getting in any trouble!

laura k said...

Amy, I have found the same thing through all my various careers and training. Mental illness is widely prevalent, and so often (especially in previous generations) undiagnosed and untreated.

If I were to list the people in my life who have been affected by mental illness, either their own or a loved one's or both, it would be a very long list. Indeed it would be easier to list those who have not experienced it.

There are certainly lifelong scars, but speaking only for myself, I accept that "emotional scar tissue" as part of life. Pain and conflict are opportunities to learn and grow. That doesn't mean they don't hurt! But pain is central to life and to growth.

That's my attitude, anyway. Whatever works. :)

Amy said...

It is indeed part of life. Who in the history of the world completely escaped pain, conflict, heartbreak, etc.? We find ways to bounce back if we are strong enough and have enough love and support. For me I just remember to focus on all the things that I am grateful for. And there is a lot.

(Like the Red Sox beating the Yankees yesterday! LOL! No, I didn't watch the game, but I did read about this morning. I've said not one word to the resident NYY fan.)

laura k said...

Yesterday and every game this season, minus one! Oh the pain of it all lol.

I do the same: accept/acknowledge the rough parts and focus on the positive.