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1:37 p.m. - 2003-12-08
Not a Merry Christmas Party
As Sixweasels can tell you, I was dreading the family Christmas party this year. This is the one my mom throws for my step-dad's family each year. The kids tear up the house, break furniture and leave food crumbled all over the floor. Their parents vie for attention, ignore the kids and generally annoy the living shit out of me.

My aunt used to be a bitch, but had a change of heart several years ago and has been a real sweetheart. Her husband is an ignorant ass who was abusive to his sons, but treated his daughter as a princess. He had affairs, made illegal bets on horses as a jockey, and did very little to support his family.

We actually had a nice time at the party. The kids had grown up a bit. My cousin T's girls have become very talkative and interestign as they enter their teen years. T was always the black sheep of the family, given he has a brain and made something of himself. But over the years, the grudges of old have faded and the family has become closer.

I have no love for these people, but what happened to them was so horrible. What happened to us.

We were all gathered in the living room to exchange gifts. Everyone was laughing and having a great time. The adults were teasing the kids and everyone was cozying in by the fire to look over eachother's goods.

Then my step-uncle came stumbling into the livingroom and fell on his face. We just looked at him. Stared. Waiting for him get up and laugh at us because he pulled another one. He's one of those jackasses who likes a good joke.

But he didn't get up. There was a creepy blank stare on his face and his tongue stuck out of his mouth as he struggled for breath. He was rolled onto his back, pants unbuckled. His three kids bent over him sobbing and screaming. His daughter bent over his poor struggling body wailing. We had to tell her to get off of him because he couldn't breath.

I could hear the liquid in his lungs gurgle as he tried shallow breaths. He turned purple them white and back to purple. My sister-in-law called 911 and relayed instructions to me to get him straight, tilt his head back and allow him to breathe. He struggled, then went blank. White. Then came back again to struggle with breath. All the while I relayed the status to her back to 911.

His grandchildren watched the whole thing. Nobody thought to take them to a separate room away from the horrible scene in the living room until the ambulance arrived. That's how they will remember their grandfather. Not as the little league coach, or as the little old man who taught them to play practical jokes on eachother. He will be emblazoned onto their minds as the man with foam in his mouth who died twice in front of their eyes. Merry Fucking Christmas kids.

The medics arrived, resusitated him, loaded him on a stretcher and took him down the icy hill to the ambulance. They stayed there while he went into arrest again, his son beating on the ambulance door. They made him let go of the door and drove away.

I think he died there. In front of my mom's house. He never made it to the hospital alive.

I couldn't sleep last night. I stayed up after I got back from the hospital washing loads of dishes from the party. I tried to get the stain out of the rug from a fireman's knee. He had just come from a fire and was full of cinders. He felt so bad. He looked at me with a young face and huge, liquid green eyes. He apologized for getting our pretty white carpet dirty. He wanted to explain that it was dirt from a fire, and not something gross. He felt like a heel.

Can you imagine? You come to someone's house to save a human life, and feel you have to apologize for dirtying the carpet? What kind of people would complain? Someone I guess. But my brother and I told him it was OK, not to worry. We were grateful that he came. It's nothing that a little Resolve can't get out, we said. Don't think on it another second.

Thank God for these men and women who volunteer their time to come to our rescue. One lady had been out celebrating in a pretty dress, and left her celebration to come to our aid.

So, it was a nice party with a horrible ending. I guess it was good for my step-uncle to have his last hours spent in the company of his entire family at a nice Christmas party. And since it happened at our house, none of the kids will have a lasting impression on their own as the place where their father/grandfather died.

I worry for the kids most of all. I hope they'll be OK. I hope their parents have the sense to get help for them. I can't imagine a kid being able to come through an experience like that without some lasting damage. Maybe I'll suggest it.

Ah. well. Life does go on, doesn't it? But I'd really like to be in my bed now sleeping away the rest of the day. Maybe tonight I'll sleep.


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