My grandmother and her two sisters used to sit in grandma's kitchen, playing cards and plotting the future of our family. Over this innocuous bridge game, important decisions like who would host Easter in the upcoming year and when was cousin John going to meet a nice Greek girl and settle down were decided. (Aunt Demi and 1987, as it turned out.) There was no doubt in our minds as kids that any decision we were eventhinking about making had better have the blessing of these three women before we moved forward. This may be the only reason why I didn't have multi-colored Cyndi Lauper hair as a teen. My grandmother assured me that she would roll over and drop dead immediately, and my great-aunts would both die of mortification, if I dyed my hair like a rainbowed skunk. I certainly wouldn't have been able to live with that kind of guilt, and looking back, it really wasn't the best fashion look after all. Thanks, Grandma.
As I got older, first it was Aunt Georgia, and then Grandma Annie who passed away. But the matriarchy still stood firm. Auntie Demi was around to keep us all in line, and by golly, we all made sure to go visit her, send her cards and photos, and call her when she required it. We all got married and moved around a little bit and got new jobs, but my mother, my aunt, my cousin Lori, my sister and I all stayed part of our little clan. (We had two male cousins in there, but they have opted to fall by the wayside. Too much estrogen, perhaps.)
The first question that came up after Auntie Demi passed away was that of who would assume the role of matriarch next. Cousin Joanne? Aunt Georgia's stepdaughters?
My mother called me to let me know that while it was my decision, it would be nice if my sister and I came to visit her over the weekend and go through some of my great-aunt's things. No pressure, but really, I should be there. And maybe I could bring a platter of some of those sugar cookies that everyone enjoyed so much at Christmastime. You know, if I wanted to.
I think our little matriarchy is going to be just fine.