“What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?” – Eleanor of Aquitaine, “The Lion In Winter” (1968)


We are always in the middle of dealing with our relatives, especially this time of year. It can be a challenge. We love them but brokering who is going where while trying to avoid the inevitable battles which will last until the next century leaves us having “loud conversations” with each other.

Which is not fair. It isn’t even our drama. I suppose that’s why some families just give it up after a while. The drama overwhelms the joy.

Dublin, September 1990

We don’t have Mom and Dad, Gramps or Gramma, Uncles or Aunts to consult for help. We’re it!

July 2012

I look at the old photos of my family from long, long ago. I wonder how they dealt with these things. They look so young and carefree. I know things were not always easy for them as my brothers and I grew up. I still recall “loud conversations” between Mom and Dad.

I used to wonder why they didn’t resolve things easily like they did on family TV shows which were forever playing as we were growing up? You know, where father definitely knew best? I once even asked my Mom why our house wasn’t like Donna Reed’s home. You can guess how she answered me.


Why didn’t the clock stop for Marilyn and me when we were younger and healthier with some of those beloved family members still around to help us deal with stuff. We’re the “old folks” now, the senior members of what was once a lot bigger bunch of relatives.

Family are us. It’s more than a little disconcerting.

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.


    1. Weird, Fandango, weird. I was always “the kid”. At home, at work, everywhere. I’m not “The Kid” anymore. I’m “Gramps” or “The Old Guy”. As the world turns.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, talk about a family that REALLY needed a family therapist.

      “Now Eleanor, you must stop taking armies against your husband. That’s not the way we handle family disputes. And you Richard, stop killing everyone …” at which point someone zings an arrow into him and that’s the end of family therapy.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. A superb film.
            I met Dalton … must be forty five years ago now… backstage after the production of Henry IV that taught me to love Shakespeare. He and the rest of the cast were surprisingly kind to an enthusiastic schoolgirl 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

    2. I would stack my Mom up against Hepburn’s Eleanor. I can just see them sitting together, grousing about family. Mom: “Elly, I’ve had it with the men in the family. I do all the heavy lifting and all I get are complaints from my husband about spending too much money. He’s clueless about keeping things together—and he’s so damn moody”. Hepburn/Eleanor: “Esther, my Sister, we need to put these dullards in their proper places. And, my boys offer no hope. Why didn’t I have girls?” Esther: “Eleanor, I tell my boys the same thing. My oldest—Garry—is so insolent. I keep telling him—some day, you’ll learn”. Eleanor/Hepburn. “Esther, you’re so right. “


  1. Seems more families these days are ‘nuclear’ families, more isolated and smaller.
    Dunno why they’re called Nuclear, surely there is less chance of an explosion at Christmas time??

    Always love your folks’ wedding photo – is that Prince 4th from left in the back?? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, that’s my Mom’s Brother, the late “Uncle Herbie”. He was a gifted piano man although it remained an avocation. He could liven up dark times by sitting down at the piano and playing a variety of music. He also had a smile on his face – during difficult times. Quite a guy.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Bob, “Uncle Herbie” was a member of ‘The Greatest Generation”. Saw action in WW2 in Europe. Also encountered some nasty racism from “Our Guys”. He never complained about it — until years later — when asking me about my time in the Marines. He smiled when I told him about the bar fight that my Gyrene buddies and I won. He told me I’d won one for the family.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think i would have quite liked ‘Uncle’ Herbie. 🙂

            One victory can give us a defence against a whole heap of negativity. It’s a pity there are so many who have that negativity. 😦

            I think ‘the Good Guys’ are fighting back some though. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. My Dad and “Uncle Herbie”, like many of their WW2 comrades, never discussed the horrors they saw. Dad told me a few things near the end of his life. Awful.


              1. My Dad was only old enough to join up just in the last months of the War and did not see overseas service. My Grandparents never mentioned it – They lived in very ‘severe’ times and things were always ‘best kept to themselves’.

                I was probably quite fortunate they did, they were probably not.

                Even if it can be said to be in a good cause – it’s still a terrible thing to go through and would stay with you for life. 😦

                Hopefully all future wars will be fought by our machines and not by our Youth.


    1. I didn’t mind the cooking until everyone got picky and what had started out to be a buffet with chili ended up a sit-down meal for 8 or 10 or however many showed up. I liked Christmas Eve to be a casual “get together” with easy eating and opening presents and some friendly conversation. But the big fancy sit down dinner and “he doesn’t eat turkey and she won’t touch lamb and she won’t eat white potatoes and I don’t care much for the sweet ones, and Owen can’t eat anything orange and won’t TOUCH eggplant (aubergine)” … and Kaity never looked up from her cell phone.

      It wasn’t fun anymore. It was just a lot of work and a very expensive meal with Garry washing dishes for hours.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Scribbles, I have an old media pal, retired anchorman. He’s 86 and battling some serious issues. We’ve made a pact — to find a quiet corner at an upcoming bigly holiday bash — hunker down and “catch up”. Problem is — there are so many people, so few quiet corners. It’ll be interesing.

      Scribbles: Just had an evil thought: I could yell to the crowd: “Okay, everyone. Eat, Drink and Lie — But Do it Quietly”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I remember my parents saying the same thing after my grandparents passed on. Yes now we are the last ones standing. I think our jobs still remains to prepare the younger ones to take over from us with as much skill and ease as possible. No one ever feels ready for it but we have learned a few things along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

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