Lucky for me — and my siblings, extended family members, and the neighbors — that my father, while wacky in his own charming way, would never think to throw raw hamburger meat at me or my siblings if he was upset about our interest in our mother’s health condition. Never mind that it’s not in his nature to waste good food or that hamburgers are as sacred to him as the cows from which they come are sacred to Hindus the world over. It’s just that even he is not THAT crazy. None of us are.
For the record, we’re pretty “out there”. I would go so far as to say that we, my family, put the “fun” in dysfunctional. Today, though, is a time to be grateful that neither my father nor my siblings are in any way like Jean Kasem. (A couple of us are blonde, but that, thankfully, is where the similarity ends.)
Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the ongoing saga that has, of late, played out in the Kasem family? In a nutshell, Kasey Kasem is ill with late-stage Parkinson’s Disease. His second wife, Jean, has been keeping his children from seeing him. When not allowing them into the house didn’t prove feasible, she moved him out of state and refused to reveal his whereabouts to his children. Concerned for their father’s well-being, his children enlisted the legal system to help them. Court orders were drawn up giving them the authority to check on their father. None of this, by the way, seems to have anything to do with money, for a change.
When one of his daughters arrived at the house where his wife had the poor man holed up, Jean grabbed what I suppose was handy — uncooked hamburger meat — and proceeded to pelt the daughter with it — all the while quoting bible verses. Okay, Kasems. You win. You are truly the most dysfunctional in the land. (At least for now. Who knows what those Honey Boo-Boos or Kardashians might get up to next?)
Dealing with the sudden illness of my own mother over the past couple of weeks and making valiant attempts at not upsetting the apple cart of my own family’s insanity by engaging in power struggles with my father and/or my siblings has been, at times, trying. Still, we’ve not resorted to food fights. That’s encouraging.
What we have done, which has been mildly surprising given our family penchant for drama, is risen to the occasion by playing to our strengths. Sure, there were some tense moments in the beginning, but we seem to have found our way through this particular rabbit hole without invoking crazy lines from The Good Book or hurling make-shift and, let’s face it, fairly ineffective, projectiles at each other. Score one for us!
What I’ve learned from this experience, more than just how not to use edibles in family warfare, is that we were able, when the chips were down, to behave like grown-ups. Making an already difficult situation more stressful by engaging in internecine struggles isn’t helpful to anyone. That’s easy to say, harder to do. It seems, though, that we have, in a turn of events just short of miraculous, actually managed to behave like the adults we are purported to be. Who knew?
Well, my mother for one. She was confident that we would get our shit together — for her sake, if not for our own.
Because I believe in erring on the side of caution, I have made what I believe is a fairly simple request of my mother. I have asked her to be more aware of what’s in the fridge the next time she takes ill. I have advised her that, just to be on the safe side, prior to calling for the paramedics, and, you know, if it’s not too much trouble, it might be a good idea to toss any left over hamburger meat (and The Holy Bible if she can lay her hands on it) into the trash. Just, you know, in case we find ourselves resorting to our old, childish ways. While we’ve done well during this illness, there’s no guarantee that we can be relied upon to behave, in future, any better than those crazy Kasems!
photo: raw meat