Saturday, November 07, 2009

Love’s Lessons, part 47

My Grandmother passed away, a week ago Wednesday. Her obituary is here. I think that everyone present would agree that it was a good time, overall, for a far-flung family to gather in a way that will never happen again, to tell stories – new and old, and honor a life well lived.

One of the things that I’ve been personally aware of, for some time, is that a great deal of sorrow can be spawned by ‘unfinished business’ – the good, bad, but not indifferent currency of a relationship. Grandma and I were paid up, our accounts reconciled, with the exception(of course) that I will always owe her my gratitude and respect for her legacy and love – that's off the books. I think you know what I mean. Dementia had taken a large part of her, some time ago, her physical departure was merely an inevitable reality.

Serendipities occurred. I was able to make three quarters of my journey with either my parents or my sister. I seemed to make some new connections with a couple of cousins, whom I’ve only seen once or twice.

The funeral was on Saturday. The last time we were all together was at the graveside, and there weren’t any more ‘group’ plans made after that. Uncle Bob had casually invited me out to his home on Sunday to see his ‘57 Chevy project. I waffled, and decided not to go. It was a 45 minute drive out and back, for maybe an hours visit before I climbed on a plane for another 4 hours or so. I immediately began concocting a plan to bring Sam out to see the car when it was completed, but I didn’t have a chance to talk to Bob about it. I found out later that he and my Uncle Cliff had gone to an OU football game Saturday night – plans made in advance, and which Hazel would have surely approved.

Sunday’s flight was actually pleasant, and I was home in time for dinner. I’d taken Monday off because, well, I could. The phone rang at about 8:15 am. It was Dad, and Uncle Bob had just died. His obituary is here. I think Dad said that he and Cliff had ‘taken down a couple of trees’ at Bob’s on Sunday (I haven’t had any real conversation with anyone, my folks are returning home tomorrow). Clifford is a doctor, and he and my Aunt Althea were staying there. When he had chest pains, I guess Cliff kept him going till they got him to the ambulance and the hospital. His funeral was yesterday.

I’ve written this post, many times and many ways, since Monday. Excuses, mostly. Unfinished Business. I didn’t tell him in person; I actually wanted to send him a letter -  in writing to show that I wasn’t saying what I was supposed to in the moment, that I really meant it – telling him how grateful I was to him for taking care of Hazel all of these years, that his example  sets the standard. How he waded through the family and personal issues to not only do the job, but do it extremely well. How I wanted Sam to meet him and get to know him, if only as little as I had. I will try and express these things to Aunt Janice, but it just won’t be the same.

I so now wish that I’d been willing to make myself mildly uncomfortable for an hour and a half, last Sunday.This is at least the second time I’ve been taught this lesson, and I hope that it’s the last:

Do not pass up an opportunity to spend time with the ones you love. It could very well be your last.