why is it death brings out so much superstitious thinking in me: omens, cautions, worries of what it all means? and then the memories, nostalgia, that sinking sigh of time lost.

services are set tomorrow for my uncle. this will be the first time in all the years since he and sally got back together that i’ll be meeting his side of the family. i’m sure it will be the last meeting as well. it’s hard enough to tend the ties we have with the blood relations we grew up with let alone those by marriage.

i used to have a large family, as was the norm for italians at the time. grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins all were closer and gathered at the expected times, sharing food and gossip. it used to be walking into my great-grandparent’s little row house on a typical sunday was a great navigational feat–weaving through crowded rooms of suited and skirted legs, hoping not to be stepped on or grabbed for a cheek-pulling, lip-splitting kiss.

gathering times are fewer and smaller now. families themselves are smaller and the lines of blood and marriage are thinner than they were a generation or so ago. my children never had to plot a dangerous course from front door to a small concrete backyard filled with vegetables and fig trees growing against chain-link. i miss this for them. i miss the uncles who smelled of whisky and cigars, the aunts and grandmothers with aprons and wooden spoons at the ready, the cousins forming a tight circle against the tide of grown-ups, knowing that if we stayed together we stood a better chance of escaping a rough-cheeked kiss or a too tight hug.

these gatherings are mostly dim memories now. memories of another time–no more real than a memory read in a book written by someone else. to be honest, we don’t even think about each other anymore–except maybe when a funeral comes about.

so, tomorrow i say goodbye to another uncle in my shrinking number of uncles. i’ll see some cousins for the last time, and my son will see them for the first and probably the last as well.

it’s all just too sad and i don’t know if it even matters much in the end.

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3 responses to “

  • zjman

    we don’t even think about each other anymore–except maybe when a funeral comes about.
    Ah yes, the wedding/funeral gatherings seem to be more and more the only times when whole families get together. And then, for the obligation of it, the small chit chat, the promises to keep in touch, and that’s it.
    Oh but the memories you invoke! Overzealous hugs and kisses getting lost in large old women and the raspy stubble of uncles and great uncles. Too much food, too many people, opening the back door in the middle of winter to let some cold air in the house (and the clouds of smoke out).
    As Amy said, despite the circumstances, it will be good to reconnect tomorrow.

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  • uneedak1u

    It does matter – and I have to tell you that coming from a small family, it’s been such a joy and a pleasure to be welcomed into ‘s extended family, with all the attendant fawning and noise and confusion. I look forward to family gatherings with them because the atmosphere reminds of the way my mother grew up sharing Sundays with her grandparents and cousins down on Kensington, and the way that the oldest members of the family were some sort of pivot point for everyone else.
    It’s something I always envied her, and now I get to share in it a little bit myself.
    Looking forward to meeting you, although certainly not under these circumstances.

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    • lsaboe

      yes, just feeling a little sad and defeated–a momentary thing i’m sure. i guess i’m just missing it all because for me, those gatherings are just distant memories. i miss the older ones, and now that i would be considered one of them (old that is) there’s no family that gathers here. my mother’s gone, my father is crazy, my sons are scattered. not that life is bad or unhappy–just different from what it was.
      and i look forward to meeting you tomorrow, despite the occasion.

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