Back in June I told you about A Death in the Family, where I found out my aunt had died almost two months after the fact.
Last night I learned that her husband, my mother’s brother, passed away on August 1.
As you can tell, we really aren’t that close to that side of the family. I hadn’t personally spoken to him since my father’s memorial service twenty years ago.
As it was when my aunt passed, my feelings are more “oh” than “oh dear,” and it feels like I’m hearing about someone else’s family.
Neither of them ever seemed to approve of me. I always got the impression that I was a disappointment to them, long before I came of an age where I could really disappoint them. I feel a sense of loss, but it’s not sharp; it’s more of the ache of “what might have been.”
Maybe they were embarrassed about how far they’d fallen. Back in the 1970s and 1980s my uncle owned a chain of one-hour photo stores in the Atlanta area, and did a very brisk business. Then cameras became digital and photos were printed at home and my uncle didn’t keep up with the technology and lost his shirt. They were very prideful – well, my aunt was – of their elegant home in their affluent neighborhood, and it must have killed them to have to go to her brother and essentially beg for a place to stay, especially that late in life. I can’t really know what they went through – for 20 years, I never heard a word.
I had always missed not having a better relationship with them.
And now I miss them because now I never will.
Now that I’ve told Mom, I can post this.
My aunt passed away April 18th. I stumbled across her obituary late last night looking for information about her husband (she was married to Mom’s brother). The two sides of the family had a falling out years ago and never reconciled. Mom is now fairly convinced that the situation is likely permanently irreconcilable due to them never telling her about my aunt’s illness and passing. (I’m unsure of what she died from, but she was in hospice care at the end.)
My aunt and I were never close, so I don’t feel an exceptional amount of grief at her passing, which is odd for a family member. I’m actually more upset that no one told Mom that she was sick, and I’m grieving for Mom’s loss more than I am my own.
Having to tell my mother that her estranged sister-in-law died over a month ago is one of the harder things I’ve had to do.
I’m not really sure how I should be reacting to this. I’m mostly numb about it, haven’t cried or gotten sad. My thoughts have been mostly wrapped up in figuring out how to tell Mom, and now that I’ve done that, I can start to process things on my own.
But I feel almost like I’ve processed it, like my reaction is more “oh” than “oh dear.”
I’ve told myself that I can blow off most of my checklist today, like I do when I’m sick, but so far the only things that could have happened that haven’t are exercise and stretching. My checklist looks a lot better today that it did yesterday, and I’ve honestly slept through more of today than yesterday.
It feels like something that happened to someone else’s family.
I wish that weren’t the case.