Tuesday, October 10, 2006

RIP, SC(KPMBS, the ones I remember)G

It's interesting that I mentioned my aunt of many marriages in my first post. She died last Thursday. I didn't know she was sick. Rather, I didn't know her breast cancer had recurred. I learned of her death from my sister, who read it in the newspaper.

Yeah, my family, we're close.

I hadn't had any contact with my aunt for three and a half years, since the nasty scene at my father's memorial service, and contact had been spotty for six or seven years before that, as we disagreed on how my father's wife was treating him and providing for his care.

Regardless, it's sad that she had to go by such an awful disease.

I would say that what I am feeling now isn't exactly grief for her, but it's some kind of feeling about that side of my family. The lot of them have been, at the very least, fodder for some crazy tales. My husband doesn't miss a family gathering on that side purely because of the entertainment value.

I don't have a ton of aunts and uncles or extended family. One aunt, by my father, and one uncle by my mother, six cousins total, from both sides. I used to think my aunt was so glamorous, so beautiful. I saw the clothes, the cars, the houses, the done-up hair and manicured nails. Somewhere along the way, I realized that the chain smoking, the Screwdrivers for breakfast, the cast-off husbands, the cast-off children, the tantrums when she didn't get her way were the signs of a deeply unhappy and troubled woman, and I somehow created a separation from her and her kids (mostly her daughter, nearest in age to me). I felt apart from them, different. Oh, I still saw her for several years when I went out to visit, saw her daughter on trips to California, but it was never the same. I'm sure she resented that and saw it as a rejection. She had a similar falling out with my sister.

In truth, I think it was really an acceptance of all the insanity that was that part of my family, and not rejection, that enabled the separation - the moving on - for me. I was able to talk about the crazy family history and laugh and try to learn from it, but she never was able to do that. She was embarassed by what her family had been, and tried to hide it. We were polar opposites in this respect. I wanted to take the family skeletons out and dance with them, and she wanted to make sure the kneecaps of those skeletons were well-broken so they would just stay put in the closet. (Dad was somewhere in the middle.) All this became so evident around the time my father died. It's still painful for me.

Maybe what I am feeling is renewed grief for my dad.

I noted in her newspaper obituary that the surname of one of her sons was left off. After being married to her current husband for over ten years, she was not close enough to this son for her husband to know his last name. That's just so sad.

I wish that she could have had more acceptance in her life. Maybe she would have been less bitter toward her sons, less angry around my father's memorial service, less a lot of things, more a lot of things.

I hope she's finally at peace.

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