I haven't written in a while. I'm guessing its because I needed an emotional detox from writing about the situation. It also, however, might be because of the surprise party. See, I wrote about the situation because I kept worrying and reliving it. I was worrying and reliving it because this year is my dad's 60th birthday.
In the years that have passed, my father has reconciled with his side of the family. He used to ask if any of us wanted to join him to visit them, but has since learned the answer will always be no, at least for my mother, younger sister, and I. Karlee, who called my grandmother a bully, goes sometimes. I can only hope it is of her own accord and not because she feels badly for my father.
Anyway, this year my dad turns 60 and my mom planned a surprise party for him. She asked if it would be a problem for Brandon and I if she invited his family, knowing how much it would mean to him if we were all there. My initial thought was, Sure, we can be the bigger people. Brandon said something along the lines of, Eh, it's been almost three years. If they still have a problem with us that will only be their problem. And with that, the plans for the party began.
In the weeks leading up to the party, I had flashbacks of things that had happened before. Brandon and I, strong and unphased as we tried to be, talked about what could potentially happen in an attempt to prepare ourselves for the worst. My other grandmother, who I think was the most worried of all of us, assured me that she would be there if anything happened as my grandpa replied, "Yeah? What will you do?!" teasing her.
About two weeks ago, on a Friday night, it was time. My dad thought that him and my mom were going out with some family friends for dinner. Little did he know, we were all going to be at the restaurant when they got there. Brandon and I had gone to pick up my friend and the cake. My sisters came a little later with balloons. Everything was set up nicely and then we waited.
The first people to come were of course my aunt, uncle, and cousin on my dad's side. The one who had shared with me the story of my great-grandmother and a variety of Bible quotes. In that moment, I decided gracious and welcoming was all I could be. I walked up to all three of them and gave them a hug, welcomed them, showed them were to put gifts, and where the drinks were.
More and more people began to come with no incidents. It was almost the time that my dad was supposed to be there and my grandparents, his parents, weren't there yet. A minute before I got the text from my mom that her and my dad were there, my grandparents walked in.
At the time, I was talking to my mom's brother and his wife, my back to the door. The minute they walked in both of their eyes got wide. "They're here. Your other grandparents are here," they whispered in the most indiscreet way possible. I couldn't help but smile because I realized that if Brandon and I were nervous, so were all the other people here who loved us.
Again, I chose to take the gracious route, turning around and welcoming both of them. Maybe it was my imagination, but they both looked like they deflated with relief. Again, I realized that if I was nervous, they were ten times as nervous. Oddly, that made me feel better. Maybe they finally knew that what they had done was wrong.
A few minutes later, my dad showed up. He walked through the door with my friend's dad laughing, expecting to be seated at a table to eat. When he looked up to a booming yell of "Surprise!" the look on his face was priceless. Not only was he surprised (which if you know my dad, was a surprise in and of itself), but I saw him scan the crowd of us and take in the fact that we were all there to celebrate him.
When I think back to that day, of course the worrying was really all for nothing. The party went as well as it possibly could have. Though I didn't spend the whole time catching up with my dad's side of the family, we were in the same room together with no incidents. I haven't spoken to any of them since and honestly don't plan to. I just can't deal with that kind of emotional distress and worry for every family function.
Life is full of enough distress already without it coming from your family. I am relieved that for my dad's sake they put their hatred behind them. I can breathe a sigh of relief that Brandon didn't walk into another ambush on my or my family's account. Nothing will ever fix the damage, but I feel like that night I finally got closure. For that, I am unbelievably grateful.