Life, Lives, Living

Easter weekend, a time to think about…bunnies? Eggs? Those really gross Peeps candies?

What about rebirth or renewal? Seems appropriate for this time of year. Yes, I was going to write about rebirths of all kinds, including those we do without dying first, when we reinvent ourselves in some way, either joyfully by choice, or, like me, a little bit more reluctantly because of unwanted circumstances. And there’s no question OEC has opened the door for a redefining of myself, if I choose to accept it. I think I am at least partially up to the challenge, and there are some big changes afoot. (More on that in the weeks to come…)

Easter is also about death, of course, but how there is life after it – at least that’s kinda what it’s about for my Christian friends and relatives. For me, it’s just another holiday I no longer celebrate in a religious way, and it means getting together for a family dinner for which I have to prepare my own food (but I’m cool with that).

(Aside: During recent Easters, I have also thought about how, in a way, Good Friday inspired some of my first interest in theater. Going to mass on those afternoons and seeing the different roles of the passion acted out [or at least read] – that always intrigued me in a way no other part of going to church ever did. So I guess the RCC was good for something after all in my development, unless you also count ceaselessly honing my sense of guilt over many things as a positive.)

I thought about life and death today while I attended a memorial service for the mother of an old friend I hadn’t seen since high school. In a twist of irony, he, I, and a mutual G-bury friend were all supposed to rendezvous today, to talk about old times, theater, our lives today. Obviously, death forced a change in that plan, though we did get to chat a bit at the memorial.

I did not know the woman eulogized – or rather, celebrated – other than as a teacher at a local school. But hearing the stories spun by friends and family there, I realized how that was my loss. She sounded like an incredibly loving, dynamic, caring mother. Person. I also smiled as I heard many of the reminiscences, especially ones that touched on life in G-bury long ago, when I was a kid during the 60s and 70s (and god, that does seem so long ago).

My friend’s brother talked about how her life was in so many typical of people of her age: growing up during the Depression, reaching late teens during World War II, starting a family in the heady postwar years of America Ascendant, raising baby boomer kids, experiencing the fear of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, seeing grandkids so adept with the technology of the digital age. My mother and so many parents of people I know shared all that too. And sadly, that “greatest generation” is coming to its collective end, slowly, one lost parent at a time.

I also thought how universal so many of the day’s stories, themes, were – of her being a parent, a relative, a friend, a contributor to society. Of how she touched so many people. We all hope someone will say the same of us after we’re gone, don’t we? Hope that some part of our essence will live on in the stories friends and especially future generations will tell. There were several grandchildren there today, most obviously old enough to have spent a good many years with her. But one was only 2½, and her mother lamented that the girl would never truly know her grandmother. She would have to rely on the stories from cousins, aunts, uncles, and others to paint the picture of the remarkable woman’s full and fulfilling life.

And how could I sit through all that and not think about the stories of the lost loved ones in my life, particularly my father. And think about the loss that is to come, when it is my mother’s turn. I wonder what stories we will tell then – and wonder why it seems we, my family, don’t tell more stories now of the relatives who are gone. They are not forgotten, I know, but it seems we fall a bit short in that important sharing of memories that keeps someone metaphorically alive.

Lastly, I looked at the children and grandchildren lined up there today, heard in their words their love for their departed mother/grammy, and thought: There is concrete proof of her legacy, if the words are not enough. And yes, I got a little sad thinking all I will leave behind are stories, some not so flattering, I admit, and I will not have a direct line of descendants to tell them.

Bummer.

But that’s the reality. Maybe some of us live on more completely than others, either by our children or our deeds or our impact. I suppose I can’t waste too much time wondering about what I will leave behind. There is still life left to live. More stories to create with the choices I make, the people I meet. A renewed life, in a way, as I continue to figure out who I am and what I should be doing in the time I have left.

Holy crap, that sounds like a pretty friggin’ daunting task…

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~ by mburgan on April 23, 2011.

3 Responses to “Life, Lives, Living”

  1. ah kiddo, i tell my kids the stories that I remember..the lawnmower incident and the attic one…the great meals at mom’s…so you are the writer, you best start on the family stories…heather remembers some things like the little chalk board that Aunt Louise had outside her door to leave msgs, she remembers that Anna like to talk on and on on the phone with Ma…since our traditions (if you can call them that) no longer exists someone needs to write..i mean I wrote my grandmother’s life from A to Z …what a title huh…but it didn’t have much…you seem to remember much details than i do.

  2. I can always use some help. Have to get a tape recorder and get some of this stuff down. Didn’t remember about Aunt Louise’s board. How about the bar at Uncle Andrew’s that had the sliding wall. Always loved that. I remember the attic, of course. What was the lawnmower incident. How about the fire in the orchard? I don’t know if I was old enough to actually remember it or just hearing stories about it. Maybe this should be my trial run for writing personal histories.

  3. I remember the fire, I couldn’t sleep because all the firetrucks were still up in the orchard. the lawnmower was when she someone got stuck and couldn’t stop it, and was being pulled around the yard, but then again I don’t remember things perfectly.
    Yes you should practice, you should also try to interview what relatives are still around and can tell you stuff, I got the stories about Great Grandpa Ansaldi from Tommy & Arlyne.

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