I haven’t written in awhile. My apologies.
About a month ago, my Father’s sister died; his only sibling. She was the last of my blood relatives from that generation. You might think this seems an odd way to put it, until you get to this point. It feels like another level of being orphaned.
Actually, the gut punch of being on the precipice of losing this generation came several years ago, when I saw my Aunt for the first time in many years. My Aunt and Uncle traveled a lot, but I lived well outside their regular route. We met at my sisters. My Aunt’s health had started to decline and she looked different. Being the youngest of the cousins on both sides, I think, sometimes causes me to shirk larger responsibilities. I know I have raised two children to college age, managed my house, had a job with large responsibilities, etc., but the thought of not having the safety net of a generation older than mine around seems scary.
The loss of another relative also brings up memories of my parents’ deaths. I have always seen my their deaths as falling on the opposite ends of the spectrum. Dad had a heart attack at 66 years old; well before I had thought it necessary to prepare myself mentally for it. He lingered for a little more than a year while I learned to count on my sister for updates as my mother kept insisting he was getting better. In hindsight, I know Mom was not only dealing with the truth in the limited way she could handle it, but also battling the onset of her dementia.
We then spent the next 15 years or so watching Mom deteriorate from Alzheimers and similar dementia causing diseases. It’s a different kind of pain to watch a parent lose aspects of themselves and then basic abilities. There were still glimmers of her personality that showed to the end.
This is just a brief summary of how I recall the whole thing, in summary. My sister experienced it differently.
My Aunt loved cardinals and she collected mugs with their image. I went on vacation right after the memorial service and their was a cardinal picture on the wall in my hotel room. I think she was saying “Hi.”