parens binubus

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  • Friday, September 08, 2006
    connectivity and the lack thereof
    I just got word that my grandfather died on Wednesday.

    He was ailing for over a year, nothing necessarily specific, just a general breakdown of mental and other basic functions.

    He and my grandmother moved to Arizona (from New England) when I was approximately 12. They came back to New England about once a year to visit, but he just watched t.v., and said little.

    My grandmother died in 1994 of cancer, and very soon after, my grandfather remarried.

    Also important to the story (or lack thereof) is that he was my mother's step father. That should not, and often did not, make a difference in the family relationships. My mother's father died of Polio when she was 3 months old (the youngest of 3 girls), and my grandmother married my grandfather when my mother was 3. They then had 5 more children, and lived as one family (of course).

    However, once my grandmother died, there did seem a less of a connection coming FROM my grandfather. Furthermore, his sister (who was always my aunt) and his mother (who was always my Nana) had been known to make comments about the fact that some of us were not "real family" anymore.

    Of course there were other reasons for the distancing -- as in, the distance, and his age, and his new marriage.

    I feel pretty certain that he never met my girls. I'm not fully sure. My last true memory of him is from my wedding, in 1994, when he was following my mother around trying to excitedly tell her that he was getting married, and that he wanted to make the announcement at my reception. My mother was devestated - my grandmother had not been dead for 4 months yet, and my wedding had been her "goal" - she had said she was going to make it to MY wedding --- but she did not. My mom remembered that, and was very upset and missing her mother, and was VERY resentful that her dad was giddy like a kid over getting remarried already.

    That's the last time I remember seeing him. I must have at least one other time, because I knew I met his new wife, but only once, and I can't for the life of me remember the circumstances.

    Most of his children stayed good about going to visit him in AZ, but he really almost never traveled back this way.

    So now, he's passed away. And I feel like no connection has been broken, and like there is no loss in my life.

    And I realize that honestly, I have kept very few connections to my extended family. Very few. I moved to California with the Schlurg, and then we divorced ... something that is heavily judged by my family (either for reasons of Catholicism, fundamentalism, or Russian Orthodoxy, it is BAD BAD BAD). I keep in touch with my parents, my siblings. Period. I have kept in better touch with my cousins on my dad's side of the family since I'm back on the east coast, and we see each other more than I do those from my mom's side.

    It's not just me, though. They don't get together anymore, like we all used to when my grandparents lived here. my mother talks with all her siblings (or at least most), but when i see them, it's a formality. They all love my kids, but lose track of how old they are, and what's appropriate for them (one aunt bought Emz a giant floor puzzle with 50 pieces in it for this past Christmas. A puzzle that is really designed for toddlers. Emz was 9 ... she looked at me with utter confusion as to what she was supposed to say; I coached her to say thank you, of course.)

    My parents are out of the country -- their first time crossing the Atlantic. This is why I hadn't heard of my grandfather's passing until today. Either did my mother - she got an e-mail from her sister letting her know that they tried to call her, but could not get the phones to go through (I doubt they've ever heard of a "country code"), and so they just e-mailed her. He passed away while my mom was flying over the ocean.

    She is okay with it (being in a different country). She plans to set up a memorial service on this side of the country.

    So then there's the question ... do I need to miss classes and go? I probably do - for my mom's sake if not my own or my grandfather's. That is IF the service takes place before or after our trip that's planned for the week after next. Mom returns on the 15th, and I leave on the 20th, and don't return until the 24th, and the 25th is Emz' bday. So????
    posted by Zuska @ 12:25 PM  
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