I don't want to start off your week on a downer, But My Great Aunt Catherine passed away a few days ago. We weren't close, so i'm not devastated. I think the last time i saw her was at my Grandmother's (her sister's) funeral back in 1990. The weird thing is I was just wondering about her the week before, as i drove past her old house. This house is in a neighborhood that has become a run-down ghetto since the early 1980s, and her old block has had about five shooting deaths in the past year.
In the 1970s, I used to enjoy visiting there, where she lived with my great-Grandmother, but nowadays, (well a few months ago when i was working, that is) I hate having to go thru that neighborhood, let alone having to get out of my car, and say, deliver a Pizza.
I don't know how Aunt Catherine stayed there alone as long as she did after her Mother died. I think they put Catherine in a home in the early 1990s.
What stands more than just her passing is the milestone it creates. She was the last living member of My Grandparents' generation. I never knew any of my four grandfathers, they were all dead or in asylums before i was born. (for the complicated explanation of why i had four "grandmas", see the story in Unshaven CHI #4) So a link to family history is now closed to me. Those details about the side of the family that migrated west at the beginning of the 20th century, after a rift between brothers, and then lost touch with us, these detailss that neither my Dad or his brother Eddie are clear on, will now take painstaking research to recover, if that's at all possible.
...and my Parent's Generation is also dwindling. They're all past retirement, those that are still alive. Of my Mom's 11 siblings, only Sister Mary, and her brother Joe survive with her. Mom is 70, and has had Parkinson's Disease for over 12 years now, and I don't think she'll be around for five more years. My Dad's side of the family is longer lived. 3 of the 4 siblings are still around. Eddie is the oldest, and he's around 75. Susie must be about 62 now. Jimmy is the only dead one. He was the middle child, and the one that I'm most like, surprisingly.
Jimmy was a practical joker, and an avid hobbyist who always had a devilish grin on his face, and was always in the middle of assembling some new project. Jimmy got divorced from his wife when I was about five, and never dated again. He had a son, Scott, who left town with the ex-wife. Scott was a little less than a year older than me. I recently got in touch with Scott via e-mail, and it's a shame my limited contact with Jimmy was infinitely more than Scott ever had growing up. Jimmy moved in with my Grandmother after his divorce, and remained there until the mid-1980s, when one-day around his 50th Birthday, he went on walkabout. He just disappeared. At first, we thought it was just another Hunting Trip. A couple weeks after he left, the family got a call from State Troopers near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Jimmy's body had been found beside the Highway. Apparently he'd been walking, hitch-hiking, and had suffered a heart Attack. Maybe he knew it was his time to die.
I remember his funeral. The morticians had put that devilish grin on his face. I kept expecting Jimmy to pop up, and shout "I Gotcha!" maybe I wanted that to happen. I know I want to have my corpse animated like that at my funeral. I also want to videotape my own Eulogy.
Dad will soon be 68, and his recent hernia operation was the first time he'd been a patient in 35 years. But still, as I watched him in the recovery room, I noticed that he'd become old, and the skin near his IV needle was papery and wrinkled. I think caring for mom is really starting to age him. I'm just noticing that People in my Family are getting old. I'm on the young end of my genration, but i have cousins and even siblings that are starting to have Heart problems, cancers, Adult-Onset Diabetes, etc. It's why I've taken care to adjust my diet (Christian, That Double Cheesburger and Fries that had you worried the other day? That was the one Cheeseburger i allow myself per week), slim down, and get regular exercise. I think I'm much healthier at 40 than I was at 30. I might not be as sane, or as gainfully employed, but such are the side effects of a real Genius that resists conformity.
So, Rambling aside, People get Old. People Die. I'm a Healthy, but Insane, Genius. I'm like Jimmy. Expect me to go on walkabout in about ten more years. That will be just about after I finally get aroound to publishing my "One Last Ride on The Ghost Truck" graphic Novel, hich has been written now for about fifteen years, and has sat by my drawing board, with two pages finished, for about five years now.
Now, i have to get dressed, and go put in some Job Applications before i go to work at the Haunted House tonight. Pain in the ass. This week the Haunted Mill is open every night, no break. Now is when it starts to feel like work.