I guess I used all the serious tones and sad demeanor I could muster after my aunt passed away and sort of ran out of steam. I thought I had told everybody.
But this Christmas saw a good four or five cards show up addressed to you know who. Most were from people whose names I only knew in passing. Some were from people I had never heard of.
A good friend of both of them just found out, on the off chance, when she Googled my aunt's name and found this blog. We have since corresponded and shared a few intense conversations about the people who I knew best, but still only knew from my perspective. It's been nice, and I'm looking forward to doing it more.
And then, there was a straggler that came to the mailbox yesterday.
I had to go to Mattapoisett for a few things; I hadn't been in a while. There was a bunch of mail from all kinds of foundations and old Alma Maters, looking for dough. There were a few brightly colored envelopes from things like Direct TV and Comcast, trying to pitch a new, multi-faceted entertainment plan my way.
Finally, I opened a little envelope which looked personal. Written on it was the return address of a man who my mom and aunt both knew. I believe he was a teacher from B.M.C. Durfee High School where they both worked for years. It started out, "Dear Lynda," and went on for a couple of sentences about my mother, and how he was thinking of the good times they all shared. It even mentioned my name. I'm sure, if they shared good times, then my folks liked him very much. There were many people who knew them, but few broke through the barrier to the point where they would hang out, as it were.
So now, I have the distinct honor of calling this man (his number was easily attainable through a quick internet search) and tell him what I have to tell him. I'm sure as soon as say who I am he will suspect the worst; at least I know I would. But it has to be done. It's another loose end. It's another person who is going to be sad after the fact.
The other people I can just send a little note in the mail; there's no need to look them up. But it's something that I owe them if they are going to take the time and send a card.
And so, tomorrow, I will call. I tried him today, but I didn't want to leave a message. That seems tacky. I didn't want to even say to call me, because he would know right away something was wrong, and it's the kind of thing that should be done in one fell swoop, not half-assed by playing phone tag with somebody in Michigan.
But this is the kind of stuff my aunt took care of when my mom died. She had to call all the people who were at all a part of my mom's life and let them know a great woman has moved on. She never told me she had to do this, but I can guess that, since I didn't get any cards addressed to my mom, it had to have been done.
And this is another part of growing up. There is no place left to pass the buck; nobody who will shelter me from an adverse detail which might set me off on a tear and have negative consequences. It's all me now.
And it's not necessarily a bad thing ... being the bearer of bad news.
I look at this phone call as not simply an end. No. I look at this as another source of illumination. I look at this as a chance to gain a detail of my folks' lives that I never got to see. Sure, my mom could tell me she talked about me all the time and, of course, I'd believe her. But it gave me such a good feeling when I heard if from an impartial party of how my she would beam when she brought me up. How she would fill with joy and excitement to tell of my upcoming, and recently executed adventures globe trotting around like a rock star with the Chorus, not to mention all the original music I had written, recorded, and performed for over twenty years as well. She talked of my achievements, which she was so proud of, as well as her concern of my dangerous way of living. She was proud, and she didn't want to see my life end before hers.
So, as much as I won't say I'm looking forward to making this call, it's not the most terrible thing either. And this way of being--finding the positive in even the most depressing of tasks--is how I see the world now.
When I see a rock on the ground, I don't just see a rock. I see potential. I see--as disgusting as it may seem--the creatures that inhabit the underside of this impenetrable and seemingly purposeless object. I look for what can be learned from that which may seem unattractive.
All you have to do is not stop looking at a situation in order for it to change. It may take some time, but there's always an angle you can view it from that you hadn't tried. I used to do it all the time when I was looking for an excuse to get loaded. Now it just helps keep me going the way I'm going. It makes me stronger. It makes me smarter. It makes me want to live longer.
Because if I don't do it, who will?
I'm just glad I am alive and able to ask the question.
Thanks for reading,