The elders are gone
I was in England visiting a friend for the very first time. At 3:00 am in the morning I answered a call from Miami; it was my Aunt sobbing. “He’s gone”, she said. There was a numbing silence as if I was shaking off an unwanted dream. “Your uncle died just now you are the first one I called.” It never happened to me before, being so far away, helpless to be helpful, sadden and solemn in a weightless pain. I returned to the US and planned for the trip to Miami.
My Aunt and Uncle lived alone in their lifetime homestead; they planned to live and die in the house. My Uncle was ill and had been declining quickly; he never went to doctors and when he did there were many diagnoses that had gone untreated. I last saw uncle a few months prior when I shared with my aunt that he was dying. I had seen death up close several times and could recognize her stalking approach. The universe patiently delivers us and then as quickly sweeps us away – no one escapes.
By the time I reached Miami, the deed had been done; uncle had been cremated and was resting silently in the house. No one in our family had been cremated before; it was their decision. The decision to be different was always theirs. Uncles’ life was literally in ashes –in a bag– in a vase–on a table in the house he never wanted to leave. Auntie was home alone with ashes clinging to memories. Listening was the remedy for the heartbroken soul. I listened to her recollecting the good — and bad times. I listened to her stories of life and living. I listened to her life history over and over — it seemed to calm her…. and then I left.
A few months later, I got a similar call; this time it was auntie who crossed over. Later this year I was riding on a bus and got another call and my last remaining aunt left this world. The last death ends our depression generation; there is no one left who was born before the great depression. Mourning for those we love is universal but joy comes from knowing they are at peace… at last.