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January 19th, 2010

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03:23 pm - A generation passes
The past couple of months have been difficult.

My mother died November 4. My stepfather died November 23. My uncle died January 10.

I expected my mother's and uncle's deaths. She had lung cancer, caught far too late for much hope of effective treatment. But she did beat her initial prognosis of a couple of months and held out for over a year. The leukemia that killed my uncle was quicker, only 5 months.

I dislike the "fight" metaphor for cancer. It may help the sufferer cope with the awful treatments but it seems inapt when it is your own body trying to kill you.

The death of Bill, my stepfather, I did not expect. He had all the usual health problems of an 87 year old man but nothing imminently threatening. His mother and grandparents had lived into their 90s and I assumed he would too. After my mother died, he felt he did not have much to live for and so died. I was shocked by his death in a way I was not by the deaths of my mother and uncle. His death forced me to think about him and my life. Brady Bunch not withstanding, raising a an amalgamated family of six kids, putting them all through college and having them grow up into responsible adults is a challenge I can appreciate now but not when I was a feckless teenager or even when I was a feckless young adult.

About the only consolation in this passing was the chance to see the family. We are scattered pretty widely now, with me falling the farthest from the tree so we don't have many opportunities to gather.

Lots of family stories were told, family mythology really, old standards like The Night the Tasti-Freeze caught fire in Kirkwood and How Uncle Richard broke his leg sledding down Suicide Hill.

There were some I did not remember: Uncle Tom registering black voters in Montgomery, Alabama before the Selma - Montgomery marches and having his phone tapped at OU when he was involved in counseling draft resisters. Or the time my father persuaded the police to let my uncles out of jail; they went free in exchange for the case of beer they got caught with which he promptly replaced. And how my mom lost [temporarily, fortunately] two prisoners out on furlough when working in prison ministry.

I will miss them and their stories. I miss the chance to tell them some of my own adventures living here in Not-The-USA.

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Date:January 19th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Andy, my thoughts are with you. The parallels here are kind of scary; I assume you have read my blog this fall. My mom died Sept. 4 and dad on Sept. 18; he was 87 also. I too experienced the joy of reuniting with family and the sorrow of loss. I am also the farthest from the tree with the extra guilt of being the oldest and the only girl, supposedly the matriarch now but I relinquished that role. The stories are yours to keep and pass on, now. Try to save them and tell them often.
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