Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Great Aunt's Memorial Service



Those of you who have been following my Semi-Homeless Diaries are familiar with the trials and travails I went through with my 88-year-old Great Aunt. But if you assumed she was a sad old lady who wasn't long for this world, ha! My aunt lived to be 100 years old. She passed away Feb. 3, 2009, and yesterday, I attended her memorial service.

I wish I could say that her twilight years were happy and fruitful and filled with love, but honestly, I believe her last years were mostly a bewildering blur of loneliness. By the time I moved in with her, most of her loved ones were long gone. She had lived with her parents most of her adult life, even after she married. Her parents? Gone. Her siblings? Gone. Two husbands? Gone. Even Mr. Sweet Talker and Neighborhood Watch. Gone.

Most of the people at the memorial service were senior citizens, but their primary memories were of how kind Great Aunt was when they were kids. When you reach 100, real peers are hard to come by.

At one point in the service, the minister said, "If Great Aunt were here, she would say..." and then he inserted a Bible verse. I wanted to laugh out loud. Granted, my aunt was a Christian woman who regularly attended church, but I never heard her utter a Bible verse of any kind.

She didn't talk about the Bible. She talked about puppies. Her parents. Traveling. How her younger brother (my grandfather) used to call her a "green-eyed monster." How Century Boulevard, a busy Los Angeles thoroughfare, was still orange groves when she arrived in the 1940's. How when she moved to her South Los Angeles neighborhood in the 1970's "there were hardly any blacks."

The last time I sat and talked to her was at her 100th birthday party. She was wearing a silly birthday tiara and some comfy clothes that she wouldn't have been caught dead in 12 years earlier. If she could have really seen herself, she would have given a self-deprecating laugh and exclaimed, "Oh, gee! I look a mess!"

She didn't really know who she was. She didn't know who I was. She didn't know who all the people in the house were. She didn't know what all the fuss was about. I was able to hold her hand and sit with her and let go of some of the bitterness, resentment and guilt that I felt when I lived with her.

I wish that the 25-year-old me had been able to be more patient with her, more kind to her, more able to give her the love and nurturing and attention that she needed at the time. But I couldn't. At the time, she got on my nerves. And to be fair, I got on hers, too.

5 comments:

Luscious Sealed Lips said...

It is sad how we regret not being nice to people after we lose them.

I feel sad every time when I think of my old ailing grand parents, whom I were not too nice to. I just pray, they forgive me. I should have been there for them more often.

May God Bless her soul. She sounds like a good spirited woman.

Kisses.

sospokesaroj said...

I'm so sorry to hear that she passed away.

izzie said...

Sweety first of all thanks for this post, these feelings and words are not easy to say and to let out.
Secondly... I gotta thank you cause you wrote exactly what goes on inside my heart when I think of my Grampa...

Love,

LL&L said...

I love going down memory lane when I think of people that I love and miss. Reading your post reminds me that our time is short and I have to spend time making new memories with the people I still have with me. Your words are so sweet, I appreciate you for that.

Cheron L. Hall said...

lol...yeah, ya'll both got on each others damn nerves but I'm sure you two needed each other more than you both cared to admit.

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