He had five sisters: Helen, Dorothy, Beatrice (Betty), Isabel (Izzy), and Mildred (Millie). I never met Helen or Dorothy; they died either before I was born or when I was just a baby, but I knew his other sisters. Betty lived with Izzy, my Dad’s mother, when I
My Grandmother died in February of 2003. She was the first person with whom I was close to who had died and her death profoundly affected me. I have many fond memories of her and of spending time with her. I would spend a week alone with her in her tenement apartment in the city. She would take me shopping, to the movies, and the park. We would spend time playing games and watching our favorite television shows while eating dinner. She would sew clothes for my dolls and create paper dolls out of old JC Penny catalogs. She made me feel valued and when I was with her I felt capable of anything. She listened to me. She loved me.
She was and is still a very important part of my life. She was the first of my Beloved Dead. At the time of her death we were not as close as I would have liked to be, because she had difficulty in accepting that I had children with and at the time of her death, was married to, someone of a difficult culture and heritage. My children’s biological father was born in Puerto Rico and moved to The United States when he was about eighteen years old, and although I know that my Grandmother loved my children, she had difficulty with my choice, which created a distance between us, leaving me with a deep sorrow.
At the funeral when I saw the last living sibling, Aunt Millie, the physical similarities between my Grandmother and she were clear to me; they had the same eyes, nose, and mouth … they had a similar voice, humor, and personality. It was clear they were siblings and I couldn’t stop seeing my Grandmother’s shadow lingering around her.
I cried at Uncle Rae’s funeral, but it wasn’t for the same reason that my Dad cried or for the reason that Aunt Millie cried …
I was unprepared for the affect the funeral would have on me. I was unprepared for the emotional upheaval I felt being surrounded by these people that I hadn’t seen for years, these members of my family bloodline. I naively believed that I was just going to support my Dad, as he was grieving the loss of his surrogate father, unawares that this occasion would uncover the grief I still held over my Grandmother’s death. I found it strange and unsettling that I had deceived myself in this way, that I was convinced I no longer mourned her passing. Perhaps it is this time of year that sparks the sorrow within or perhaps I just haven’t finished grieving. Could it really take that many years to process a single person's death?
No matter, the tears still flow attempting to release the sadness.
And the tears flow even as I sit here in the college library, composing this blog post occasionally glancing out the windows to watch the yellow-orange leaves fall from the maple tree and slowly, gracefully land on the green grass below.