Friday, May 13, 2016

The passing of two old ladies, both of whom I will miss a lot.

Old people die, this is the completion of the circle of life, yet somehow it is remarkable how the heart remembers long past the time.  My Mom passed in February, her best and likely only remaining life long friend, my Aunt passed away in April. They each raised five kids, lived with husbands who were best described as "dreamers"  stayed in touch as close as they needed to, and watched each other as the years took their toll.  My Aunt, who isn't technically my aunt, but always will be, had the most beautiful blue eyes, my cousin got the same beautiful eyes from her Mom.

I don't know enough about my Aunt:  she was a British war bride, hooking up with my uncle sometime in the 1940's and leaving her family to settle in an old airplane packing crate in Edmonton, in an area now occupied by the traffic circle on 87 avenue and 142 street.  My parents lived across the street.

Maybe it was proximity, but both my Mom and my Aunt had five kids in equal succession, this made for some great family gatherings and some of us remain close to this day, indeed as the two youngest, my cousin and I have kept the family connection alive with our own daughters.

Not to slag any of my blood relatives, but Aunts youngest daughter  is my best cousin, love her to death and she has the same eyes as her mom; looks like her and has many of the mannerisms  too, which is a real complement.

I think of the minor inconveniences that occur in my life and I realize that my own ways are easier and more prosperous than theirs ever were. Mom and my Aunt, held families together during alcoholism, real poverty and despair, my Aunt, who was separated from her family by a country and an ocean probably felt pretty alone a lot and must have questioned her decisions to leave England more than once. I do not recall her ever complaining about it.

When we take a generation of young men and have them fly complex machines, dropping bombs on other young men, or put them on crappy boats dodging torpedo's in the North Atlantic, when the war ends, then what? Once you have defeated Hitler, what do you do for an encore?

Coming back to Canada, you get a job as a salesman, auctioneer or a bus driver, because war does not teach a lot of skill that translates well to peace time. It does however teach optimism and ingenuity.  My  Mom and my Aunt were married to very ingenious men, not well educated, not very good at business, terrible communicators who repressed most of their feelings, My Dad and Uncle  tried and failed more often than they succeeded, but they tried, they had optimism when most people would not.

My Aunt and my Mom, watched all this with  reserved amusement I guess, worrying more about feeding five kids each their lives were often less adventuresome and more practical matters such as the paying of bills often fell to the women.

Both ladies outlived their husbands and in my Moms case  was heart broken that her best friend was suffering from Alzheimer's and would soon forget the friendship of her life. My cousin though, when she told my Aunt that Mom had passed away, said her Mom cried, striking a chord and remembering what she did, we shall never know.

I learned a lot from my Aunt Laurel and Uncle Barry, the life lessons and the times they were there when I didn't even know I needed them are what I will always remember. Today is my Aunts memorial, I saw her recently because I have begun to understand how important it is to make sure people know how you feel about them while they are still around.

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