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Grandparents, that is. Maggie & Sadie now have more living great-grandparents than grandparents. Tom’s daddy died at 10pm on Thursday, Dec 10th. Bobby, Daddy & I flew up to Ohio on Friday, the visitation (or “calling hours,” as it’s called in the North) was Sunday, and the Mass was Monday. Tom, Jennifer, & the girls were booking it for South Carolina by Monday night. They were gone for a total of 13 days & 12 nights, which in baby-world, is an eternity.

It feels very surreal, this parentloss. Aren’t we a little young to be doing this? Aren’t you supposed to make it to your 40’s or 50’s before your parents die? We can’t seem to make it to 30 in our family.

Things feel a little more normal less traumatic now that we’re home again. We’re all back to work (well, those of us who have jobs) & determinedly embracing the Christmas spirit. Listen to some Christmas carols, damn it. Pass the effing eggnog.

The sheer chaos of the last week did bring about a breakthrough on a personal level for Jen, Sue & me. Ya’ll may recall that I was raised in a somewhat cultish conservative religious environment, and one of the biggest deals is women wearing pants (fondly referred to as devil britches). Like, it’s a BIG DEAL — bigger than wearing makeup or cutting your hair or painting your fingernails.  As of last week, my sisters and I, ages 31, 26, and 22, had never ever wore pants in front of either of our parents. We’ve grown up, gotten married, bought houses, & birthed children (one of us, anyway), and we have never been caught without PAC, which is sister-speak for “Parent-Approved Clothing.” I have actually seen my father’s vehicle in my own driveway and driven away from my own house and hidden in a nearby parking lot until he left. Yes, I have.

Then there was the time just a few months ago that Sue & I were having dinner with Bobby, his mom, & his sister, and our internal PAC radar started beeping as Daddy drove by. And without an explanation, Sue and I get up from the dinner table and run, literally RUN, to our bedrooms to change into skirts. Bobby’s mom and sister were confused. I can’t imagine why.

Anyway, back to last week. Tom & Jennifer are calling with updates on his daddy, Bobby’s grandfather is in the hospital ICU again, Sue’s in the midst of her final exams, I’m freaking out at work waiting for “the” call from Ohio, and then Bobby falls down the stairs. He calls me gasping for air and I freak out (some more) and race home to find him lying in the kitchen floor with the dogs sniffing his face & his butt concernedly. He’s completely convinced that he’s punctured a lung because he spit up blood after he fell. Because a punctured lung is all we need right now.

So I get him off the floor & into the car & take him to the hospital, where his mom (who happens to be working) is worried that he’s cracked a rib or two (turns out his just pulled some muscles, but it hurt like a bitch. Oh, and the spitting up blood thing? He bit his damn tongue when he fell. Drama queen.). So I’m sitting there pulling our insurance information (because that’s when we still HAD medical insurance) & trying to help Bobby & answering inquiries from work about when I’ll be back & then Daddy calls & announces that he’ll be there in two-point-five minutes.

And suddenly, my focus shifts from my job and Bobby and Tom’s dad to “Holy shit. I have on pants. And my father is coming here.”  Commence the mother of all freakouts. I actually seriously considered leaving Bobby at the hospital and going home to change. I berated myself for not carrying a spare skirt in my car. I tried to talk to Bobby about it, and he just moaned in pain and cussed and was no help at all. So I just sat there. I mean, what’s a girl to do? And for the first time in almost 32 years, I wore pants in front of my father. And ya’ll know what?!? He didn’t even blink. What the hell is that about?!

Then Jennifer wore pants in front of him in Ohio, and he didn’t blink. And then I wore pants in front of him yesterday, and he didn’t blink. Jennifer finally asked him what the deal was — like, what the hell, dude, we race around like idiots for 31, 26, & 22 yrs respectively and you’re not even reacting? And he told us that it was “between us and our husbands” and it was none of his business as long as we still respected him by not wearing pants in HIS house.

And then Bobby & Tom, who are both fine with their wives wearing pants, laughed their asses off. I swear to God, I was born into a family of freakin’ crazies.