Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A rough weekend

Sometime Sunday, my great-aunt died. She was my mother's aunt, but since she outlived my grandmother by a good 20 years, she served as a kind of stand-in, grandmother type for most of my life. Her quality of life in the past year had slipped to a point where she wasn't really herself anymore. For lots of reasons, that's obviously sad (as well as a fact of life), but the chief reason to me why that is sad is because in her vigorous life she was a very funny lady with a sharp, self-deprecating sense of humor. She was, in other words, a gas. She will be greatly missed by my family, and not easily forgotten.

Times like these are tough on all kinds of families. One thing that has made this tough time much more bearable than it might have been is that I've gotten to know my great-aunt's son and his wife. They are two remarkable people who picked up roots when she needed them, moved across the country and resettled with her, filling out her last days with kindness, care, and companionship. Befriending them has been a great personal reward, as my family is small and dispersed across the country.

Also at this time, one of my closest family friends (who has also served as a grandparent to me) is in the hospital facing several serious maladies. She's advanced in age, with some complicating factors that will make recovery a very tough road.

What has made this time more bearable is that the occasion of her illness has actually brought her family back together. One of her children had been estranged from the family, and has been in regular communication with them to be with them as best he can. Seeing them reconnect has been joyous to me, because I know personally the cost the estrangement has borne on the family.

I don't know why I type this except to say that I feel lucky to have these problems as my problems. It's a good problem that you may have loving people in your life who will, at some point, leave. It's a good problem to have to go through these dramas, as they provide a chance to connect with people you never knew (or did know, but grew away from) and find out how to serve them in their time of crisis, and how they can help you survive yours.

These are problems, but they can be rich ones to have.

No comments: