wwcitizen: (Face-Serious)
[personal profile] wwcitizen
There's something about a person's life and death that speaks to the connection one has to them. Interestingly enough, this passed Tuesday, my Aunt Lee came to mind and I wondered if she had died yet. Sounds morbid, I know, but that's not the thing. My Aunt Lee and I were tremendously disconnected. She was my mother's sister-in-law.

So, Aunt Lee died in March. We didn't find out about it until May, which is representative of the lack of connectivity to that side of my family (my mother's). It's strange for me because my dad's side of the family is so affable, interested in family, loving, and connected.

To me, it's not really all that sad that she died: Her death at the hands of lymphoma (or Alzheimer's?) was inevitable, truly. The last time I saw her was at my brother's wedding, and even then we didn't talk much. I suppose by that time, I was done trying to be the good nephew.

She and that entire side of my family have chosen to be estranged and disconnected. Whenever any of them came to NC, they never let my father or siblings know. Whenever they were in Europe or NYC or Philly, they never tried to get in touch with me.

Maybe their disconnect was the subconscious effort to unplug after Aunt Lee and my other aunt-in-law, Jo from California, decided before my grandmother's death (their mother-in-law) to remove, and take for their families without our input, my grandmother's finest linens, silver, and china. Granted, the things they left behind for my mother's children (us) were things that reminded us of our grandmother, but it was the principle; and in reality it was theft. My grandmother had not died and everything in her house was to be divvied up between the sons (their husbands) and us four kids - 1/3 apiece to my grandmother's children equally and my mother's 1/3 to be split between 4 of us.

As karma would have it, Aunt Jo's house in California got bombarded by 2-3 nasty earthquakes over the next 5 years, breaking everything that she had taken from my grandmother's house; Aunt Jo eventually died of brain cancer 4-5 years ago. My Aunt Lee began having bouts of cancer and other illnesses (if not dementia, then Alzheimer's) that lasted until she passed away two months ago.

When I graduated high school, Aunt Lee sent me the "Mrs. Manners Book of Etiquette". At the time, my knee-jerk reaction was first, "Oh wow! She thought of me." My instant second thought was, "Wow, what a bitch. She thinks I don't have etiquette?!"  And, for many reasons, that one phrase stuck with me: "What a bitch!"

Aunt Lee lived outside of DC in VA. One spring break in college, I went to DC with a girlfriend from NJ, Margaret. She and I were totally on the outs. In fact, we broke up after this particular spring break. Margaret and I spent a couple of nights "in DC" with her cousins in Maryland. One night we went to dinner with my uncle and his wife, Aunt Lee. It was great because she invited my cousins (her children) and their spouses (cousins-in-law) who I'd never met before; we weren't invited to their weddings.

During dinner (at Michael's in Vienna, which was supposedly a very fine restaurant there but no longer exists...), Aunt Lee looked around the table and said, "Isn't this interesting. We have at the same table my son and his wife, my daughter and her husband, and Stephen and his ffff---- girlfriend..." (feigning to mis-enunciate "fiance"). Margaret and I immediately stopped chewing, put down our silverware, and I said, "Yes. Girlfriend. Interesting and great to see you all."
So my Aunt Lee passed away. I don't typically approach the passing of a family member with such nonchalance, but, honestly, she (in my humble opinion) didn't foster more than nonchalance about her human connections, much less her familial associations.

So, here's to you, Aunt Lee. Didn't really know you much. Spent time with you at your convenience, behest, and leisure. You never really went totally out of your way to stay in touch or be family to us unless absolutely necessary. Still, oddly enough, every time I smell or see a lilac, I think of you (she had them in her back yard).

Emma Lee Neighbors
April 11, 1933 - March 8, 2014
Oakton, Virginia

This is a perfectly awful picture of her - bottom left.  Her daughter is in the red sweater on my grandmother's lap.



wwcitizen: (Default)
Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

78910 111213

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 01:03 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios