Monday, January 16, 2012

Your children can surprise you

Well, ours did today. I'd forgotten that he wanted to visit his grandmother's niche before he returns to school. So he and his father picked up some flowers and went to visit the columbarium.

It's funny how you never use a word like that until you have to deal with it. I never knew how to spell cemetery, either until we went on a tour of  them and battlefields in Europe.

On Saturday, we went early to my uncle R's memorial service - his daughter, my cousin L - rightly called it a celebration of his life. We were really not much help, as her friends had it under control. We did pass out a few programs, and mostly caught up with our mother's relatives.

Mom is estranged from her brothers, so we hadn't seen my uncle J on that side, and my cousin J, the daughter of my other uncle W, in years. WE are not estranged, and I do see cousin J's mother at the mall, and downtown from time to time.

Back to my father's side of the family. There is only one uncle left, and he is estranged from the family. He was not at the service.

Cousin L has gone through a lot, and was very close to her father. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's, the frozen type, a year ago, but we didn't know this. He was in and out of the hospital, and passed away one day after he entered the hospice. As with so many people who fall ill and face the end of their lives, he and his family turned to religion and found a comforting minister.

I made it a point to call my cousin L as soon as I learned uncle R had passed away. From the way she spoke, I knew her sisters had not shared the responsibility. One sister lives in another state. The one who is here...

Let's just say that she arrived just as the service started, and was dressed as if for an art exhibit reception - in a black leather coat, stockings and designer boots. In Hawaii, one of the reasons the funeral notice states: "Casual Attire" is that it's 80 degrees in the middle of the day. Most women wore short-sleeved dresses or tops with slacks. Men wore polo shirts or aloha shirts. My cousin E wore his hair in a bun. (Getting more and more eccentric... though he did wear a striking white shirt with black print.)

Yes, I'm off topic.

Cousin L put together a lovely video presentation telling the story of her father's life. All of our family complimented her on it, and we look forward to getting a copy of it. "No rush!" I told her. "It must have been cathartic to do this."

"No," she said, "I was stressed out. I cried for days" Oh, dear. I can just see her saying to her sisters, "We must do this, this, and this." I saw her everywhere at the service, while one sister sat with her husband, and the other talked with guests. I can see the sisters saying, "No need to do this, this, and this!"

The day after the service, I came home to find a voicemail message from her. I called her back and said I didn't expect to hear back from her. But a few hours later, I did. She thanked us when we did so little, except to be supportive. I told her she should call me even if all she wanted to do was talk. At the end of our conversation, she told me I should call her if I ever needed anything, for any reason. At the end of the video, there are credits, and our family's names are first: my husband's, son's and mine.

I do not feel worthy.