Today will be a bit different. Instead of a rant, I’m going to share a real woe.
My “aunt” Gloria Miller died last week. I put the aunt in quotes because she was technically my step-aunt. My mother married Gloria’s brother when I was 9 years old. I had a sister and two brothers.
Some of the family looked at us askance. Who was this woman with her four kids and did she think she’d found a man who would support her and those children?
I’m sure Mom was snubbed and questioned and doubted. Forty-two years later, I think most people realize Mom wasn’t a gold-digger (or worse) and theirs is a love-match.
Aunt Gloria treated us kids like her “real” nieces and nephews.
When our family moved from the Bay Area to the Central Valley, she and Uncle Keith helped Dad find a job and us find a home. She let me stay with them when the family went out of town and I needed to stay home.
When David and I got engaged, she hosted our engagement party.
She never made me feel like a “step” anything. Her sons treated us as cousins and we love each other.
She’d been sick and we knew it wasn’t going to be much longer.
Yesterday was the funeral. Although I hadn’t seen one cousin in 13 years and the other one in 20, we started talking like it had been a week.
The beauty of funerals is that it allows you to cut past the superfluous and right to the important stuff. The hovering presence of death reminds us to not waste this moment. When asked “How are you?” the correct answer isn’t “Fine. And you?” It’s “I’ve been struggling with (fill in the blank) and it’s been hard. But I’m glad to be here and so glad to see you.” Or anything real, anything that tells how we really are.
Several times yesterday we mentioned how Aunt Gloria loved having her family together in one place. It didn’t happen often enough. It’s a fact of life that funerals are frequently the way it happens.
She would have loved yesterday. All her children and grandchildren gathered. Her brothers. Their kids. Her cousins. The only thing missing was Aunt Gloria’s beautiful smile.