Monday, March 10, 2008

Mortality with a twist
I spoke with my mom today as she was heading out to attend another funeral. She's had a lot of friends die over the last few months and I was surprised to hear her say, 'It's scary." I was surprised because death is no stranger to our family. My brother died when he was 19 (I was 4) and I had a very large extended family so there was always some relative dying - grandparents, great-aunts & great-uncles, aunts and uncles, quite a few cousins and also several close family friends along the way. My dad had his first heart-attack in his mid-40s and went on to have many more, plus two bypass surgeries, an aortic artery repaired and a heart valve replacement. The man's been at death's door more times than I can count so our family has had plenty of discussions about death as well as the possibility of death. So when my mom said "It's scary," I was a bit confused and didn't know quite what to say in response. As it was, she was headed out the door so we ended the call and it wasn't until later that I realized that it wasn't death itself that she was talking about, but the thought that one day she might be alive without any friends and family from her own generation. Now that's something we definitely haven't discussed before. Sure, we've talked about the "what if" of my dad dying, but there's always been the thought in the back of everyone's mind that she would still have her brothers & sisters and friends around if that happened. These days though, that's no longer a given. All families have their own way of dealing with stress, worry and fear and in my family we deal with it by having discussions. Even the fights in my family are nothing more than spirited discussions - there's no yelling, no throwing of dishes and the most dramatic thing that might happen is one party might storm off refusing to discuss things further... for a little while anyway - things never go undiscussed for long. So I'm sure this will come up again soon, but at this point I'm at a loss as to what to say that might offer any comfort or reassurances. It is indeed a scary thought, that one might be the last one standing of a group that had shared experiences going back as far as 80+ years. I suppose the best I can offer is to just listen.

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