Sunday, April 20, 2014

Regret and Loss of Family

My mother was Seven of Nine.  The birth order of her half-siblings was George, Gloria, Charles, Charlotte, Fred, and Irene.  Then their mom died and their dad remarried, and my namesake produced Lois and Janet, the twins, and one last boy, Edward.  Most, but not all, of the Schaffer children created progeny of their own, and I grew up with lots of cousins.

Fred was crushed by a car he was working on.  Then a few years later, George died of heart issues.  Then quite a few years later, after Mommy and Daddy had just bought their newest home, and she had just started to make it her own, some similar health thing took Charles.  Mommy hopped in her pick-em-up-truck and drove to New Jersey to spend a few weeks with her remaining five siblings.  They had many adventures in those few weeks, and while she was there, she let Aunt Gloria call me.  I'm grateful that they got my voicemail, because I still have both voices there.  On her way home, she stopped to see my brother, her only son and youngest child.  Leaving Kentucky for Florida, she was struck by another vehicle and taken from us.  That was at the end of 2006.

I still grieve my mother, but not as heavily as I did in the beginning, obviously.  Time heals.  But then my father's mother died of cancer(s) within a couple of years after serving as my Matron of Honor.  So at that point, Daddy was grieving both his wife and his mother.  But time heals.

At some point in the last year or maybe two, Aunt Janet died.  Mommy's twin had had a hard life, and was institutionalized for a good portion of it, and geographically estranged from her siblings but emotionally estranged from her progeny.  When I learned she'd gone, my reaction was not one of grief, but maybe more of an "oh, that's sad."

Yesterday, Aunt Gloria died.  I'm having a hard time with this one, and I don't really know why.  I'd moved on, living my life.  Her voice is in my phone from 2006, but I haven't seen her since well before then, and I hadn't even been aware that she'd been taken down by Alzheimers.  I'd lost touch with that whole side of the family, to the point that I can't put faces, even YOUNG faces, to the names of the cousins my sister knows and is in contact with and will say anything about.  I remember Dennis, Aunt Gloria's son, who would be much closer to my parents' ages than mine.  I really don't remember the rest.

So Cheryl changed her profile pic, and someone said "RIP" and I was floored.  I called her, and we chatted briefly, and I teared up a little.  And I didn't really know why.  Then, over dinner, I was telling Stephen about everything, and crying a lot more, and I didn't really know why. He consoled me with, "I know exactly what you're going through," and I asked him to explain it to me.

When we first got to North Carolina, in the first four months, Stephen went to three funeral/memorial services for CLOSE family.  We got here for his Dad's, and then both of his mother's sisters passed by February.  His Mom is his only living blood relative of the previous generation.  So, with the timing of everything, there is a slight worry about another passing before we reestablish our lives.

My Daddy's had some health issues lately that put him in the hospital for more than a week.  I now have one living aunt and two or three living uncles (Daddy's two brothers and possibly Uncle Eddie).  I'm running out of my older generation!  And I'm completely disconnected from the cousins on Mommy's side.  At least I have my siblings, and my nieces and nephew, and the cousins on Daddy's side.  But with that, I also have what I can only label as regret.  And not much to do about it.


I'm in the process of moving.  I can't find my envelope of black-and-white photos that came from Mommy's last disposable camera.  I wanted to post some of the pics from her final trip.  If you have yours and can scan them, will you please attach as a comment (if Blogger will let you)?  Otherwise, shoot them over in an email and I'll edit this post.  Thanks, Cheryl or Brett or Rachel or Daddy!

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