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When Family Visit: The Good, The Bad and The Down Right Ugly

Gabriel lives with her family on the Island of Madeira, where a warm climate provides the perfect environment to enjoy the outdoor life.

Flocking Home

Are we there yet?

Are we there yet?

The Good

I wrote an article a while back about my family (ref: being a little like fish and smelling after a few days) so I thought perhaps it was time to write another one. Well that's not entirely true, it was years ago and my therapist said it would be good to talk about my issues and get a few things off my chest. And in truth it has taken years to get over the last visit and my new therapist is more on my level anyway. The last one was a bit deep and asked a lot of personal questions that had nothing to do with my sister. Surely whatever you did at five years old stays where it is: in the past with your five year old self. I mean for heavens sake we all disconnected the electricity and hid under our sister's bed. And keeping dead mice was far better than keeping live ones. My mother would have had a heart attack (a bigger heart attack). Can you imagine the cost of feeding fifteen big mice. My sister said they were rats (screamed they were rats when she found them) but they weren't they were big mice. I saw it on the discovery channel.

My older sister is rather a challenging person to be around (obviously I'm being polite and more importantly I'm managing my anger and using my positive words, my therapist would be pleased). She's four years older than me, married with twin girls. She's taller but then again she's older so I'm sure if we were the same age with the ratio of years and growth we'd be the same height. Of course I'm thrilled we're not the same age because that would be too weird and would most likely mean one of us (my sister) would be adopted, because there is no way in the world the two of us could have done nine months side by side in a tiny place with no entertainment. Far too insular for me. Not to mention the fact my mother would never have survived she is still recovering from our childhoods. Not that I'm old or anything but it's a while ago now so that says it all really. Mum was always a bit dramatic though, still is. Why move to Australia where you know no one? And the out back of all places. It's so dangerous. I watched it on the Blue Planet. I think it was Australia, must have been, its such a big place I'm sure some of it was featured.

My sister being a nurse is usually rather dramatic (like Mum) but then again her patients are a bit odd but that could be as a result of being cared for by my sister which to be fair would phase anyone. Apparently my sister practises giving oranges injections. Strangely I know this because her twin girls told me (on a visit many moons ago I ate an orange at their house) after I ate the injected orange. Yes, I was sick, of course I was bloody sick. I am now terrified of oranges. The smell of one has me hyperventilating, never mind seeing one. Can you even imagine how awful that is: I can't walk past a juice bar. And they're all the craze. Anyway back to the subject at hand I'm starting to feel sweaty. Personally I think it's a waste of injections and they should just hold the patients down. I doubt tax payers are aware of this policy (injecting oranges not holding patients down). Then again I suppose restraining old people might come under some kind of geriatric movement which could cause problems, I doubt their flexibility would be very good... sorry I've gone off the subject again... My sister sent me a registered letter (I don't tend to answer the phone, never return her emails and ignore her letters) with the return address of somewhere in the Maldives (free holiday I thought). Of course I opened it and low and behold it wasn't a free holiday it was a letter from my sister. And she wasn't in the Maldives she had tricked me. In fact by the time I finished reading the letter (which took a while as I had ripped it up and then decided it might be really important so I taped it back together again, my left over dinner of Spaghetti Bolognese in the bin also added a few colourful complications) they were already on the flight.

There wasn't anything good about the letter at all really. The letter announced that not only were they coming on holiday but that they would indeed be staying with me. Actually this should be the bad bit but I've stuck with good because it doesn't get any better and I couldn't just use the words: the bad and the ugly even though to be honest they're the truer describtive words. My new therapist encourages me to use more positive words as he thinks it will help my negativity which is of course a load of old hogwash. Apparently positivity helps you face up to your demons. It certainly seemed I would be facing up to mine sooner than expected seeing as she was headed my way the wind beneath her wings, thanks to a southerly injection of pressure and clear skies. Thanks for that God.

The Bad

I realised a long time ago that I am not a particularly people friendly person and my own space is rather crucial. Solitude helps my anger reside to reasonable levels and my therapist agrees that living on my own is a good idea. The last person I lived with just left. Didn't even bring their things with them. I thought it rather odd, I mean who leaves a 52 inch TV. I think they were a bit off the wall myself. But hey, I get to eat the last bowl of cornflakes so I'm cool with it. What was I talking about... oh yes my sister...

My sister doesn't ask questions: she states statements. One of which headed her letter.

"We will be arriving at the airport via Sata. Landing at circa 5pm. We will see you then."

Whatever. Now I have to hire a taxi to get four people and four cases in one vehicle. And I have to go to the airport too, because I have to pay up first and I need to be sure the taxi driver goes straight to the airport and doesn't take a detour. And this guy used to be my friend. He introduced me to my new therapist. And seeing as that was in a bar (it's actually a really good one in a small village just before the airport, superb cocktails and fancy chips, delicious) I am only to aware of his philandering ways seeing as we never got to the airport, well not that afternoon anyway which is why he is an ex friend and why I am an ex employee of the airport. I suppose blaming the traffic didn't help seeing as I only arrived the next day.

"We won't have eaten on the plane. That food is nothing but rubbish at extortion-it prices. Can you arrange some food? Have they finally invested in ryvita crackers over there? I didn't have time to pack any like last time. Don't worry about the wine. You always buy awful cheap stuff. I'll get a good bottle of red in the duty free."

Do cornflakes count as food? Well of course they do. Must make sure I didn't eat the last bowl. Followed by toast, I'll check I have enough bread. Why goodness it'll be a banquet. Gracious she is still banging on about ryvita crackers, she must eat packs of the stuff, and the answer is no. We eat bread over here, because we have bread and real butter non of that pale white stuff that looks like... pale white stuff. Bring on the toast. And get two bottles of wine. With that thought in my head I contemplated a glass of cheap plonk but a loud honk outside announced the arrival of my one time friend the taxi driver. I glanced quickly over my living room and smiled fondly at my 52 inch TV. All tidy just the way I like it and then my smile slid right off my face. Life can be so bad.

The Ugly

Thirty minutes later I am at the airport standing in the arrival section. I'm band from the departure section which is fine by me, it's not like I intend on visiting anyone, especially now that Mum's in Australia and the orange injector and family have just flown in. Politely I waved at a few ex colleagues, the response was rather lack lustre but then again they all seemed very busy running off to do their little jobs. So glad I jacked this all in.

After a little while (when every other person on the flight had not only left the building but were probably booking their flights back) my family came through the arrival doors. I stood and watched them walk towards me, pushing their trolleys. My sister looking slightly shorter (I hoped) and rather a pale dusty colour a bit like a ryvita funnily enough. My brother in law looked exhausted (as usual) and thinner I thought, must be all the ryvita. Plenty of toast will sort him out. And the girls (tall and gorgeous). I smiled despite myself and hoped to God that I hadn't eaten the last bowl of cornflakes. They were rather animated and expressive, pointing and laughing. They were obviously in holiday mode and full of expectation. Probably hungry. Gosh I hope I have enough bread.

"Oh! look at you," gushed my sister. "You look lovely."

I was about to utter one of my three positive words until I realised it was the woman beside me talking, possibly to her sister or friend or therapist and indeed not my sister after all.

"Did you get the ryvita? she gushed.

Now that was my sister. And the answer to the question was a big fat no.

"No, sorry. We still eat bread here. Did you get the wine?"

She held up a duty free bag and smiled.

"Yes of course. Two good reds; Syrah and Merlot. We can have a toast when we get home."

How did she know that? I hope I got enough bread. Indeed! Home! My home! My clean and tidy home! My 52 inch TV! Solitude! And plants grown with tender love and care. My beautiful tomato plants. My gorgeous basil plants. My lovely home. Now her home. Their home for the next ten days. All of us together in my home. And there's the ugly. Yeah! You got the good, the bad and now you have the ugly. Me and them. It would be ugly. And my therapist will have to start all over again because right now I can't even think of one positive word. Not one bloody word. Not one. All those cocktails... what a waste. Not even a fancy chip could save me now.

After a few quick cuddles and some air kissing we were on our way to the taxi outside. My ex friend conversed the whole way home advising the weather forecast and possible trips if they would like to do anything (what a sales man). I stared out the window: I should have got more bread! There won't be enough! I hope I didn't eat the last bowl of cornflakes! Now that would be down right ugly!

When Family Come to Stay

© 2018 Gabriel Wilson

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