Tuesday, November 27, 2007


I spent Thanksgiving at my mom's in a Big Southwestern State. Everybody there was there. Meaning all my siblings and their spouses and a certain number of their kids and one of their kid's kids and one of my step-dad's kids and his wife and his kid.

Of course, we got to talking about Uncle Elliot*, who died a week before on the 15th. Turns out, the idea of no funeral, no burial, no obit in the paper, no nuthin' except ashes to be scattered on Lake Erie next summer was his idea, not his wife's, my aunt Natalie.* Natalie would have preferred to observe the usual rites. But unlike some relatives, who figure the post-death observances are for the sake of the survivors and go ahead and do what they want (the dead person being dead, and past having an opinion on the matter), she respected her husband's wishes and has done and will do as he asked.

Talking amongst ourselves last Thursday, we wished it had been different. We wished we could have gathered in Massachusetts with all the family to mourn our uncle's passing. We made do with the stories we told each other the other day, but it wasn't the same as it would have been if we could have been there with Elliot's children our cousins and Natalie and her brothers and other friends and relations. When somebody dies, the loss is mitigated somewhat by the stories you share among yourselves. The survivors are drawn closer even as the deceased family member departs. We were sorry to miss that.

Nevertheless, Uncle Elliot's wishes were Uncle Elliot's wishes, and we have to respect them.

But this evening, it hit me that I do not respect his wishes for no wake, no funeral, no obit, no nuthin'. I may have to accept the fact of them-- it wasn't up to me to carry them out. But I don't have to like them.

It's the "no notice in the paper" thing that galls me the most. What was he trying to say? That his life didn't matter? Was he somehow glorying in the idea that "all we are is dust in the wind"? Was life worth so little to him that he wanted it so quickly forgotten, that he didn't even want to let old friends and work colleagues know he was gone? It seems to minimize not only his life, but this transient but marvellous gift of human life in general.

And it makes me angry. D--- him!

(I'd better not say that. It might be true.)

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