My sister, Erin, left New Jersey today. It was a brief visit, but I think we packed in the shenanigans. I hardly made her clean the house at all, and she and the Captain enjoyed much television and wine. Indeed, the Captain was happy to have someone beside him on the couch, because I rarely watch anymore. Plus, Erin enjoys the same shows. They got to watch "NCIS," "The Mentalist," and "Castle." On two occasions, I joined them, only to fall asleep. It's like some sort of Kramer/Mary Hart seizure disorder-some voices just knock me right out.
We got Erin all to ourselves for a few days, and set her up in her room downstairs. Sometimes we let other people use it as the "guestroom," but it's officially known as "Aunt Erin's room." We told her we'd put in a bathroom if she came to live with us permanently. From the way we talk, you might assume that Erin has no family of her own. In fact, she has a husband and three daughters, all of whom are in Arizona. Her twins are entering their last year of college, and her third will be a junior. They are all lovely girls, who really don't know us, because they grew up on the other side of the country. Over the years they've visited more often, and have developed a tolerance for the chaos and noise of my home.
The girls and their father, Donald, flew to New Jersey to join Erin at a fancy birthday party for Donald's niece. We got to spend a few days with them, and it was terrific. They ate dinner with us, twice, as we peppered them with questions about their future plans. They were game, and went to watch Three perform in "South Pacific," before heading home exhausted (it was overly long). They sat, patiently attentive, as Four and Five demonstrated their Tae Kwon Do moves in the living room. Then they ran for their lives. I'm probably exaggerating; but it takes years of immersion in the House of Penii to withstand its rigors. Not everyone can survive it.
Erin has spent the last few months visiting my mother and sister in Florida. Tonight, she and her girls will return to the Gulf for ten more days. Then they will all go back to Arizona, and their "real" lives. I'm happy she's been able to take the time to be with Mom, which is what we all long for now.
My sister will return to New Jersey in July to join us, and twenty-odd other relatives, in the big Victorian by the sea. For two weeks, various families will come and go, swim and crab, play Rummikub and cards, and eat Pappou's ice cream. It will be chaotic, noisy, bittersweet fun, because it will probably be the last time we all get to share a house with Mom. I don't think she'll be up to the massive undertaking next year. But wherever she goes, we'll follow. With Erin, because we're planning her abduction.