I saw in the obits of my hometown paper that my uncle Karl died yesterday. He was the last one on my Dad’s side of the family. My Aunt Mary was the first to die, of stomach cancer, when I was entering college. My Dad was next, also when I was in college. Then my grandmother, who emigrated here from Greece as a young woman, died, at the ripe old age of 101, a few years after that. I never knew my grandfather, who emigrated from Macedonia; he died years before I was born. At some point, apparently, my aunt Helen and uncle Elo also died, so Karl was the last. The story of how they came to hate me and my sister and completely shun us from their side of the family is a long and complicated one (which I’ve written up and hope to have published somewhere, to share with you all at a future date; stay tuned).
I feel almost nothing reading this news. Despite how viciously horrible he was to me after my Dad died, and also to his own mother when she tried to continue a relationship with me after my Dad’s death, I’ve let go of the anger. I try remember my childhood moments with those people dispassionately now. I worked through the anger, the disbelief, the unfair feelings, as best I can. I can’t say I don’t hold grudges – I will never forgive him or his family for the shitty way they treated me and my sister, but I am no longer in a state such that I’ve been waiting in anticipation for this news with glee, rubbing my hands together and planning to attend the funeral drunk and in a slutty red dress, so I could piss on his grave (yes, that was one of the original plans).
If anything, I feel it’s a damned shame, and that small-minded people waste their lives. Life is so short, and people you build memories with are supposed to be precious. I guess I’m glad I do not have a hear as black as that man and his family have, and am glad that the people I surround myself with now, while not blood relations, love me, care about me and respect me for who I am, like family members should. When I say my friends buoy me and lift me up, I think sometimes they don’t know the depths of despair from which their love carries me. That, when I think of it, makes me weep, not this man’s death.
Despite all the progress forward, I admit I do also still weep for that child I see from a distance, in my grandmother’s backyard, wearing a pretty dress and attending a sunny 4th of July picnic, with all the aunts and uncles and cousins around, feeling secure and loved and safe; feeling at home. She did not know it was all just a farce. That the kisses and hugs, the presents given, were all a lie. I’m glad she didn’t know. The purity unspoiled in those moments I lived them remains intact, even if the souls of the people who participated in the tableau were not as pure.