Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Being Serious for a Moment

You may have noticed that I missed a day on my Flash reviews. the reason for this was that I had to attend a funeral.

This was for someone whom I had been raised calling my "aunt" even though she was not a blood relative. It didn't matter. In my family we hold to the idea that what makes "family" isn't really bloodlines. "Family" are those people who always love you and support you. "Family" are those people you call at 2:00 when the crap has hit the fan and they don't ask any questions they just come running.

By that definition this woman and her husband were "family". They helped my parents raise my sister and I. They were like having a grandmother and grandfather, aunt and uncle, and at times even another set of parents all rolled into one.

Her husband passed away 14 years ago -- and is still sorely missed. And now she has gone to join him. And the world is lessened by her passing.

She was born and raised in a small, rural town and her husband kept the family farm up until the day he died. My mother, father, sister and I would go up often throughout the Spring, Summer and Fall -- sometimes just to spend a day on the weekend, other times to spend an entire weekend up there. We loved it. It was quiet and peaceful and my uncle would often take my sister and I on nature walks through the farm -- teaching us about the animals and the plants we saw.

Every Summer there were a couple of festivals and during one they actually used to block off the entire main street and have a big dance well into the night. The town was that small that not only could they do this but no one complained about the noise because everyone was there!

My aunt's funeral was held from the little, country church at the edge of town and being there again was a surreal experience. After my uncle died my aunt sold the farm and, what with growing up, getting a job, and moving away a bit, I didn't get up to this small town very often. It had been about a year since the last time I had been through there. But traveling through the town to the church, sitting in the church where I had sat through many a Sunday service on visits, and then following the cortege to the cemetary I was struck by how little the whole area had changed over the years. It was possibly the closest thing to being able to step into a time machine and for the first time in a long time I felt like I could almost touch the child I had once been running around there.

But there was something else as well. As we were driving out the cemetary I realized that my aunt and her husband had been my anchors to this place and, suddenly, the last of those anchors was gone. It was a strange feeling -- as if I were a boat cut loose from the moorings. I could still see the shore but I was no longer attached to it; and I wondered how I would get back to it as well. Sure, I could come back and visit from time to time but it just wouldn't be quite the same. It was an emotional and mental shift rather than a physical one.

As I drove home, later, though, this feeling hung with me. You see, as most of us go through this world we establish relationships with people -- friendships, loves, family ties, etc.. These relationships, in turn, tie us to other people, places and sometimes things and we don't tend to really think about this or bother to see the ties. And then something like this happens. Someone we considered an anchor disappears and all of a sudden we can see the whole web of connections... and the web is broken. These lines that, when we thought of them at all, seemed like unbreakable steel cables, are revealed as as tenuous and gossamer as spider webs. And we realize that we must make an effort now to save the web. What once came so easily, what once was so strong because of the anchor is now adrift and if we want to preserve this we have to reach out, and grab the floating line, pull it back and tie the broken ends together. The line can still be strong but where once there was an anchor there remains a knot of memory.

My aunt was one of those people who wove such a wide, expansive web. If you spent 10 minutes around her she would likely soon weave you into her system. There are very few people in this world who are able to do that. Very few people know how to spin such a large web but the key was that she was such a strong anchor at the center.

And now the world has lost one more person who had the power to be a part of so many lives, to influence so many people in such a positive and giving way. She cannot be replaced. The web is broken and it can be repaired, somewhat, but it will never again be as large, as beautiful, as intricate and as strong as it once was.

1 comment:

  1. This is a touching tribute to your aunt. I know she will be missed. Her spirit will live on in you and all of the people she touched.