Death has been my reality this 2018. In September my older sister died at the age of 65. Our father is almost 90 and is still alive! I had been estranged from her for over 3 years so I had not known she was ill. I take no comfort in the fact that my other two siblings were not estranged from her yet they seemed to be equally in the dark about her illness. She was a very complicated personality, the subject of many of my essays although not usually mentioned or written about in ways that might identify her.
The word I associate with her passing is not really grief. It is surreal to me that she is no longer on earth in her physical form. She has been cremated and her ashes are with my brother awaiting some closure. I feel like in death, she is still in some kind of limbo and that makes me sad for her. She had a tortured existence, the victim of mental health issues which were not ever properly addressed, or at least to the best of my knowledge they weren’t.
She flitted in and out of my life, showing up when it suited her. Since I was busy with my own life and often exasperated with her choices and demands, the gaps when she made herself scarce were welcomed respites. Knowing that she is in another dimension, with our Mom who passed away on January 1st affords some comfort. She was always jealous about sharing our Mom even though she made no real effort at staying in touch with or supporting our parents in any way, shape or form.
The perfect families that I dream about and want to write about simply do not exist. No matter how good they look from the outside, something inside them is always brewing. Even my favorite television family, the Reagans of Blue Bloods, engage in some behavior that brings up many familiar memories in all of us. Thus the popularity of the show.
I am in the process of getting serious about writing my memoirs. I am doing it so that my children have some idea of what my journey has been like. Now that my mom is gone, I am sorry that I didn’t write down more stories, ask more questions, listen more closely. But there is nothing to be gained by being sorry. It is too late. My husband’s uncle wrote an immense biography of their family which no one ever bothers to look at because of the sheer weight of the thing. I believe even his sister (my mother in law) who should have been fascinated by the ‘manual’ never took the time to read it.
My ‘autobiography’ will be short. It will be more about how I got from there to here than with exploring the fascinating details of our DNA which are now even in question as the suppliers of these kits themselves find they are the target of investigations due to many errors. My daughter received her analysis and weeks later received another…but that’s a story for another blog.
For now, the death toll in my community has risen quite a bit in the last month or so. I have lost two important family members this year, my mom and my sister. I look forward to my father’s 90th birthday at the end of this month, and hopefully a slow down in funerals and an increase in births come next year. But I am not in control, am I? Only of my reactions.
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