Monday, December 15, 2008


A few weeks ago, I posted about our kitty dying. We've moved to an acceptance of his untimely death, although we still miss his warm softness.

A few days before Thanksgiving, my cousin died, being shot in the head, supposedly by his wife. An investigation continues, and no one has been charged in his murder. He was a few years younger than me, and had two children, one of which he was raising by himself. We weren't close; we hadn't seen each other in 15 or 20 years.

Yesterday, my aunt died. She had had a stroke, most of her body was paralyzed, and she passed away. She was my mom's older sister. I was not particularly close to her, as she was the aunt who most vehemently thought I was stuck up since I attended college. I am the only person to have graduated from college in my family, ever. She, married at 15 with children soon to follow, thought life experience was what mattered. I think learning through life experience and books are both important, but she never asked me my opinion on that.

My last memory of my aunt was in my grampa's hospital room where he lay dying, with her telling me off that I didn't know nothing despite my education, and that I was going to end up like him someday, not knowing what was going on, dying from Old Timer's Disease. He didn't have Alzheimers; he lay dying from neglect, from lack of concern from several of his children and his country doctor who kept him on meds that his "big city" doc put him on, despite the quite obvious signs that his medications were greatly interfering with his ability to live. I really hated her then, and hadn't talked to her since. And now she's dead.

It's strange when distant relatives die. It's not that we're distantly related, but that there was distance between us. And it still affects me in some way. My cousin, we spent a summer together taking swimming lessons, with our aunt who was only a few years older than me. Since I never did anything remotely fun in my childhood like take swimming lessons, it was a special treat to do so. I hadn't had much of a chance to hang out with my cousin and my aunt either, since I hadn't met my dad til I was seven. (Blood tests later proved he was not my dad, and my cousin was no longer my cousin, but once you're related, you're related.)

My aunt lived a few blocks down from my grandparents, with whom I lived, when I was a young child. I often walked to her house by myself, believe it or not, when I was 5-6 years old. This was an ancient time ago, apparently, when children grew up in a society they could trust for the most part. My aunt at this time was in her late twenties, had a houseful of kids older than me, and her husband was making a relatively good living. She was kind. I enjoyed playing with my older cousins, and especially liked it when they would get down their jewelry box for me. They'd open the lid and I'd get to see the tiny ballerina going round and round, and listen to the music. We never had much for Christmas, but I remember around that time, my aunt made for me a dozen polyester barbie doll outfits, trimmed with rick rack. I enjoyed putting them on my barbies, clasping the hook and eye closures. She apparently felt something for me then, perhaps pity, or maybe love.

But as an adult, I don't know what happened. I tried to keep my nose clean, getting good grades, not partying or even swearing, rarely dating. But she would tell people she saw me on a street corner late at night, trying to pick up guys. When I went to college was the last straw for her, I guess. I found myself at college not because I had a desire to go, but through bizarre circumstances, it seemed better than my alternatives at that moment. I don't know if it was envy on behalf of herself, or maybe that of her children who also did not go to college. She was never nice to me again, and I didn't care.

This year marks the 10th year since I lost my grampa, and the 25th since I lost my gramma. They both raised me, and it's been a long time without them.


1 comment:

abby said...

I'm here visiting my parents and sisters in the F L. It's a little weird, sort of comfortable and edgy all the time. Familiar, but really pretty distant. My mom was really upset when she picked up the cheap frozen shrimp she normally buys (can't afford the shrimp that come from the gulf down the road), and I told her they're from Thailand. I don't know how to feel about anything, really. Family is so close, so undeniably part of you, in your Blood. I don't know, these are the things I'm thinking. It's interesting that you've posted this about your fam. The further you get, the tighter the cords are pulled, the heart-strings. I'm doing a lot of deep breathing so I'm not caught in the snap of these cords releasing from the long stretch.

with love