Too Many Goodbyes
It's true that my children are out of school, and of course, that makes finding quiet time to write and reflect somewhat challenging. I wish that was the reason for my absence.
But sadly, we have had two deaths in the family in as many weeks. Both were expected, both were really welcomed, as beloved people have been fighting a long time and suffering in both body and spirit.
But it has cut deeply nonetheless.
The first was Husband's grandmother. He did not have a close relationship with her, nor did his family. She made some choices in life that alienated people close to her and caused a rift that narrowed somewhat over the years, but never really closed.
But she was mother to many and losing a mother is always hard. Mothers are touchstones, archivists, keepers of memories and kissers of childhood tears. When they are gone, part of us is gone too.
The other was a beloved Uncle to Husband. Because Husband's mother had nine siblings, his mother being one of the oldest, he was close in age to his younger aunts and uncles. With this one uncle in particular, that resulted in a relationship that was really more like brotherhood.
I didn't meet this Uncle until we had our first child. He was a outdoorsman and was described to me as the "Southern Grizzly Adams". He lived in a small, humble cabin at the foothills to the Appalachain Mountains. He hunted, fished and trapped for a living, and when the weather was nice, he would sometimes disappear for months on end.
He was a vital, vibrant man, which was one reason his illness was such a shock to everyone. Cancer does not seem to recognize that certain people were not meant to be surrounded by four walls, confined to a bed, caged within a body ravaged by disease.
When he and I did finally have occasion to meet, I'm afraid he failed to make a favorable impression on me, owing to the fact that he gave my 7 month old child a turkey drumstick with the imprecation that "That boy needs a bone to gnaw on."
Being a first time Mom, I was, of course, protective. I also tended to do things by the book, and the book most assuredly did not advocate giving seven month old babies turkey drumsticks. I didn't say a word, however, I just hovered nearby as he held my son, ready to deliver the heimlich should morsel of meat or a sliver of gristle get lodged in his throat.
My son did not read the chapter about how new foods should be introduced slowly and with caution at the appropriate age. He showed himself to be true to his carniverous heritage (Grandfather is a butcher by proffession) by laying into that thing with a zeal that was almost feral. At one point, when most of the flesh had been stripped away, Husband placed the heel of his palm against Pubescent One's forehead in an attempt to dislodge him from the meaty morsel...to no avail.
Despite that first impression, I came to like him very much. He always treated our children with special kindness. It was clear that he loved all the children and had a way with them that made it difficult for me to hang onto my ire over that first little blunder.
He took in a dog that really should have had a bullet through the brain. The dog belonged to a friend of ours, who lived next door to us in a Townhome community when Pubescent One was an infant. He had been terribly abused and was vicious as all get out - except with her. She loved him, but she was deathly afraid he would get out and savage some innocent person.
Since Uncle lived out in the middle of nowhere, it was a good place for the dog to go. The dog had a particularly strong aversion to men, and he bit Uncle on more than one occasion. Uncle made sure that dog couldn't hurt anybody else, and if it had ever happened that he needed to hurt or kill the dog to save a person, he wouldn't have hesitated. But he couldn't just put him down.
"It ain't his fault. Somebody done made him mean." he would say.
He's gone now. He's the first of nine brother and sisters to go, and it has been a terrible thing for those left behind.
We'll be mourning him in the next couple of days and like other funerals before, I'm sure it will be an experience to remember.
Maybe I'll write about this one too.