I think I've mentioned my grandmother (mom's mother) and her struggle with Alzheimer's, so it probably won't surprise you to hear that the inevitable has happened. She is no longer able to live alone and had to be moved into an assisted living facility. She was found on the floor in her condo, unable to get up. They think she had been there for many hours. She was conscious, but too weak to get up by herself. She was taken to the hospital, but the doctors couldn't figure out exactly what had happened. In any case, she stayed in the hospital for a few days and was then moved to a residential facility. My mom and her siblings seem pretty pleased with the place, although none of them are happy about her being so far away from all of her living children. But it sounds like the place she's in is taking good care of her. Apparently the morning after they moved her in she had all her bags packed, ready to go back home. Because of her memory problems, it's so hard for her to understand why she can't live in her old home anymore. She'd been there for almost two decades and really liked it. At some times she'll make really lucid statements, wondering if she'll ever feel at home in her new place...And other times she'll sound totally lost, saying things like she'll need a bigger bed if Neil's going to live there too. (Neil was my grandfather, who died in '93.)
On a happier note, this past weekend I went down to Gettysburg for my cousin Adam's wedding. I don't know if I can explain this clearly, but I'll try my best. Adam married Katie. Adam and I have a mutual cousin named Tim. (Adam is my dad's brother's son; Tim's mother is my dad's sister.) Four years ago, Tim married Sarah, Katie's older sister! So now Adam and Tim are each other's brothers-in-law as well as cousins. But it gets even more complicated than that, because Adam's dad, my Uncle Phil, who'd been divorced for several years, remarried two years ago—to Jen, Katie and Sarah's cousin! So Adam's wife is also his cousin's sister-in-law and his stepmother's cousin! You try keeping that all straight, because I can't ;-)
A big reason for this, though, is that they belong to a very small church called Sovereign Grace that acts almost like a cult. I won't go quite that far, because they don't encourage their members to cut off ties with the rest of their families or try to force members to stay if they decide to leave. But they do see themselves as a separate religion (actually, they think they're the only “true” Christians, and basically believe that everyone who doesn't believe exactly as they do are going to hell), and so to marry someone not a member of their church would, in their eyes, be marrying outside of their religion. (Of course, they'll be forced to rethink this in a few generations when they're all related to each other!) This all got started by their former pastor, who held very extreme views and formed the church completely around himself. Its members, including my relatives (especially my relatives, quite frankly) viewed him as a prophet who somehow uncovered the “truth” and “loved us enough to share it with us” (my uncle's words!). Absolutely everything at that church revolved around him, and nobody was allowed to disagree with him on anything. (Can you say egomaniac?) In my opinion, no valid religion would ever compel its members to give up their right to think for themselves, and it bothers me that these people were so willing to just go along with whatever their pastor said, even when it made no sense! Ten years ago my family and I came east for Christmas—a trip that I mainly remember now as being the last time I was in NYC before 9/11—and part of the reason for doing so was to attend their church and see it for ourselves, and I have to say, it was probably the dullest service I've ever sat through! In any case, that pastor is no longer a member of the church because he was caught having a long-time affair with one of the female members. (Can't say I was surprised). You would think that seeing that the guy wasn't perfect might encourage the remaining members to rethink some of what he taught, but no, not yet. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm trying to disparage my relatives, because they're really great people, except for the fact that they believe I'm going to burn in hell for all eternity because I'm Anglican :-P
In any case, the wedding itself was nice, except for the fact that one of the things this church believes is that the man is the head of the household, and that his wife should be “subject to him in every way.” (Sounds like the definition of slavery to me.) I always have to fight the urge to walk out of the church when they get to that part—it's just so offensive!—but I don't because, what would that solve? I don't understand why some people think a marriage can only work if one person is in authority over another; I mean, shouldn't mature adults be able to find ways to be equal partners with each other? I can't believe that any decent man would truly expect his wife to obey him, nor would any self-respecting woman agree to such an arrangement...And yet, if you don't plan to incorporate that into your marriage, why have it in your vows at all? I joked after the service that if I ever get married I'm going to make a point of vowing not to obey my husband!
I stayed in PA for three days. Besides the wedding, there was also time for a visit to Tim and Sarah's new house, which they just bought last winter. They live down a dirt road through the forest on a property that borders a creek where they can go fishing. (My brother Jeff was practically drooling at that piece of information.) Their house is small and made of wood, with no central heating (they have an old wood-burning stove) and a porch looking out over the woods and the creek. It's really a pretty neat place. It wouldn't be my first choice of places to live, but it's definitely nice to visit, and both Tim and Sarah love it. They have a daughter, Dulcinea Rose (Dulci for short), and Sarah is due to give birth to their second child in July. They've also started taking classes to become foster parents, so their family could become quite large very quickly! They've been trying to explain to Dulci, who's 2½, what exactly a foster child is, and Dulci sometimes will claim that she's a foster child too, which is pretty cute since their last name happens to be Foster. They also have a little cat (who's also pregnant) and several chickens they raise for eggs. I may be going down to Pennsylvania again later this summer, and if I do I'll see if I can borrow someone's camera so I can take some pictures.