Sunday, November 9, 2014

None to Mourn Him

There was a family funeral this past weekend.  Here I am left in a funk on a Sunday night, not because I have lost someone, but because of the sad legacy the deceased left in his wake.

I do not miss my uncle; he was not a special person to me in any way, which is not a big deal.   We can’t be close to all our extended family.   Auntie misses him a lot because she had a special relationship with him.  I’m not sure who else felt much loss at his passing though. 

When someone at the funeral told me she was sorry for my loss I was speechless.  I did not lose anything.

What struck me was that, as I approached my cousins to express I was sorry for their loss, I realized the words rang hollow to them as well.  They were not feeling loss.  Family rumor is that those kids made a pact when they were quite young to stick together, since neither one of their parents was going to take care of them.

My uncle’s wife has gone into memory care.  She was a terrible mother. 

They were very Catholic, my uncle and aunt.  They considered themselves saintly because they stayed miserably married for 58 years.  I do not consider such an existence virtuous.  They considered themselves saintly because they had eight boys.  I do not consider having children and leaving them to fend for themselves virtuous.  Three of the children have already passed away.  One was badly burned as a toddler when he pulled a boiling pot down onto himself from the stove.  One was disowned by his father because he was gay.  One lost part of a foot because of an accident; the wound was not properly taken care of and gangrene set in.  I believe they relinquished parental rights for the one with Down's Syndrome at some point which released them of his care and made him a ward of the state.

Children leave a legacy, but not always a positive one.  My uncle felt sorry for Auntie (his baby sister) because she had no children and thus had no purpose in life and no legacy.   As I see it, Auntie is leaving a rich legacy and he is the one to pity.

The funeral was sparsely attended.  The priest was an immigrant from a faraway land.  The service was generic.  My Teutonic relatives could not understand the priest because of his accent and bad acoustics.  None of his sons contributed to the service.

This all makes me reflect on a number of things.

My father died when I was eight years old.  I will confess that I was jealous of anyone who had a dad.  People complained about their fathers all the time, which I resented.  I wished I had a dad to complain about.  Now, looking back, I can see that having a father who doesn’t really care can be worse than not having one.  They say that death is the ultimate form of abandonment to a child, but what about those who are abandoned physically or emotionally by a parent?  What about those people with parents who are alive but unplugged?

The Girls have applied for Foster parenting.  I have to consider these things as I approach Foster Grandma status.  There is much to contemplate.

Because my father died young he was raised to heavenly levels of goodness after his passing.  I don’t remember him much which makes for a thin legacy.  There are no bad deeds or slights to remember … nothing to humanize him, really … only a few myths and legends of his goodness, his intelligence and his wit. 

As my world broadens, as my peers begin to lose their parents, I am able to see the variety of legacies people leave behind. 

As I move my way up the family hierarchy with each passing from my mother’s generation, I am in a position to consider my own legacy.

Thanks for listening.  Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest I can face Monday.

1 comment:

kmkat said...

Hear, hear. Just yesterday a friend was telling me about her aunt and uncle who stayed married for a gazillion years; when Uncle passed away, Aunt called my friend to say, "Free at last, free at last!" What a sad story, to have lived with a hated spouse simply because that was what one did.

Oh, and your legacy will definitely include knitted socks. Lots of knitted socks.