I found this photo recently of Dad with his sister Peggy at Disneyland, and it made me think about all the family drama surrounding her visit.
I was about 10 or so when my aunt Peggy and her family came from Australia to visit America. They made a stop in L.A. to see Dad.
You would think Mom and I would have joined Dad and had a good old family gathering. But that was not meant to be.
Mom was still very bitter over how two of Dad’s other sisters had treated her when they came to visit Dad from Ireland. If her version of events is correct, I don’t blame her, though Peggy had not been part of that earlier visit. Still, as a kid, I was prone to take Mom’s side so I said I would stay with Mom instead of going to meet my aunt Peggy.
I guess I have some regrets about that now, as I have never met her personally and one of us will probably die before that happens. I’ve been communicating with her (and Dad’s other sisters) via letters and they all seem very kind. Whatever bad blood there was before (if there was any to begin with) no longer exists.
When I turned four, my parents took me to Disneyland to celebrate my birthday. I have vague recollections of my first visit, which didn’t go well. I’m guessing I was two or so at the time, and I was at that stage where Disneyland was scary, not fun. Luckily, by four I had grown up enough to enjoy all of the little kid rides and the electrical parade. I’m not sure if dad enjoyed any of this. I know as I got older dad and I were the ones that would go on the more challenging rides that mom refused to go on.
Anyways, it had been a long day at the amusement park and we were headed back to our hotel. There was a vendor holding a bunch of Mickey Mouse head balloons. Of course, I had to have one. All things considered, the balloons were not the most expensive souvenir, so my dad paid for it and off we went.
We had just arrived back in the hotel room and dad quickly headed out to the balcony for a smoke. (Of course.) Mom retreated to the bathroom to change into her nightgown. And I was left to play with my balloon. What my three-year-old mind did not comprehend was that stucco ceilings and helium-filled balloons do not play well together.
I’m sure you can imagine what happened next. I let the balloon float to the ceiling, it met a very vocal death to a rough point of stucco, and I began crying at the top of my lungs. My parents thought there was an intruder and I had been shot. Dad rushed back into the room ready to play hero. Alas, there was not much he could do to repair the latex shreds of Mickey. I believe my dad offered to go get me another balloon but it was getting late by that point, and I think I’d had enough of balloons for the moment. We all had a good laugh at this memory over the years, and it’s the most clear memory I have of that trip to Disneyland.