I was given word today that my favorite aunt passed away at 2 PM this afternoon. When I got the information I had a house full of company (don’t yell at me about masking, it was my son, my adopted son, and my daughter in law and we’re all safe about things) so, I got up and went outside. I cried for a brief moment. Not because I was that much in pain but because I was sad that I never got the chance to tell her how much I loved her and to explain to her why I was so distanced from a family that lived less than 20 minutes away. I also cried for a moment for my birth mother because I knew how much she loved my Aunt V. and how much she was feeling this loss.
Once I’d had my moment, I went back inside and visited with everyone and waited. I knew I was going to have to make a phone call that I didn’t want to make. I had to call Donna.
Explaining what I go through when I know that communicating with her is inevitable is difficult, even in my own mind. It’s very hard to be cordial and not harbor resentments and hatreds. Extremely hard. But as I sat saying a silent prayer in my head I knew it was what I had to do. It was right. No matter my relationship now with her, she is still my birth mother and for the most part, she did the best she knew how to do at each moment of our lives. Now, it wasn’t the anger and the resentment that I dreaded, it is the longing. The longing for a relationship that I know in my heart and my head isn’t possible. My spirit knows as well but what it hasn’t taught me is how to let go of the longing.
I mustered up my courage, picked up the phone, and dialed her number.
The conversation its self was easy. We reminisced about Auntie V and her uncle. I was reminded of how he loved me when I was younger. He’d always wanted a daughter but after he and Auntie V. had their only son, she couldn’t have any more children. That was just the first of many heartaches she would endure as she lived a life wracked with physical ailments and pain. By the time she was in her 50’s my uncle had to remove all the cabinet doors and build her special shelves and canisters because her hands had become so mangled and gnarled with arthritis.
Indeed my aunt was an amazing woman. She was born at home, raised on a farm, went to nursing school, became an RN, and married a cattle farmer. I’ve seen her drive a jeep across snow-covered hills in the dead of night to make it to the barn where her cow was having a hard delivery of its calf. I’ve watched her work from sun up to sun down raising chickens, gardening, cutting firewood, gathering eggs, being a wife and a mother and still finding time to help her inlaws, her church, her extended family. She was gracious and giving and humble and kind and not once ever would you hear a complaint come from her lips.
I voiced to Donna how much Auntie V had encouraged and influenced me. I let her know that I thought she was the finest example of what, to me, is a true Christian.
We shared a bit more news about other family members – my youngest brother’s fourth hip replacement surgery (he’s only 48!) and news of my grandson’s growth since being in daycare.
All in all, it was a pleasant conversation – not too long, not too short, not too personal. Just enough to say what was needed to be said in a way that made it not so hard to say. And then, it was over.
When I hung up the phone I felt that familiar sting starts in my chest, and as I breathed in I said, “Grandfather, guide me.” and let the feeling wash over me. And as soon as it was started, it was gone. There was no longing. There was no pain or tears or anger or fear or resentment. The day was as it had been and all was the same in my world except it isn’t. A very old, very large obstacle has been removed from the path of my journey and I feel both free, excited, and exhausted from the release of the weight that has been weighing on me for my entire life.
Until next time, my lovely lilies, osa usvi,