Today I’m writing what is on my mind and in my heart. The personality I ‘use’ to greet the world on a general basis, is cordial, friendly and polite, as a general rule I enjoy people. Like most people I am complicated, not more so than others, all people are such a mix of qualities; I’m not certain all of us have public and personal personas, that we are able to call upon for different situations, I do have those ‘people’ that I can become, for a little while; come back to my real self when ‘that person’ is no longer needed.
Today I’m introspective Trudy. Events beyond my control (as events often are) have taken place and are going to take place and I’ve found myself going back in time, remembering, digesting over again my life and history. The people who I’ve loved, wondering if the memories I have are correct (sometimes memories need confirmation). I’m finding through conversations with my mother that most of my memories are correct.
My mother has been critically ill for several years. She has been an extremely physically healthy woman, partly due to taking excellent care of herself and she is a strong woman, a survivor in a world that wasn’t always kind. The very fact that she is living with this illness and it hasn’t yet taken her is because she is/was so healthy and strong. Now her time is closing in, end stage cancer doesn’t leave survivors. Needless to say all the memories of my life with my mother and my father are in my thoughts much of the time.
My cousin Ed Oas, who I was very close to as child, and I was able to renew our friendship in recent years, died last week. He wasn’t expected to die, his sister Carol Jean and I thought he’d die a very old man like we all hope to. Ed’s life, like my mother’s wasn’t always easy. Carol Jean and Ed’s parents were killed in a horrible car accident on their way to a new home. That is when our separation began, across a great country, which then seemed so large and so far and difficult for me to comprehend the real distance. The pain for the remaining families and the little orphaned children was by some, almost unbearable, including my mother. Her beloved little sister Marion (Pee Wee) was dead along with her equally loved husband Billy Oas.
My mother wasn’t well at this time (in the 1950’s this was described as having ‘nerve problems’), losing her sister only added to the abyss I know she felt she was in, she has explained it to me. It would take her many years to recover. But there were whispers, Carol Jean and Ed, where would they live, I thought I remembered my parents discussing taking them, adding to their only child two more children that they both loved. I’ve recently been able to confirm this muddled memory with my mother, it wasn’t something I dreamed it was correct. Many other people were involved in the decision, and my mother, I believe now, bravely knew she wasn’t able to care for more children, not with her state of mind. Carol and Ed (Peanut) were to live with their Oas grandparents in the state of Washington. That didn’t make it easy for a family in Michigan with modest means to see or build relationships, the distance seemed to far, or maybe there were other reasons, I don’t know. The other side of that is that the children did have family in Washington.
Eddy will have a memorial June 2nd in the town he called home, Monroe Washington. Carol has planned his formal memorial, and adding to this his friends want to celebrate his life with Carol Jean and the rest of the Oas family that still live in that part of Washington area. I will be there, I will celebrate with his friends whom I do not know, and with Carol Jean who has become across the miles, visits and memories like the sister I almost had. Almost, at least in the mind of an eight year old who heard whispers and tremendous grief. Children are always listening, a lesson for us all, children can understand to a degree depending on their age, if not told they develop their own memory, and it may take 50 years to find the truth.
This entry is about two people, my thoughts and feelings of loss for the unexpected death of my cousin Ed, the impending death of my mother. Knowing that my mother is dying, does not make it less difficult, we’ve had a complicated relationship, her life has been full, she made her life what it is through her own strength and determination, many obstacles in her way, she always regrouped and went forward with great pride and dignity. That is what she has given me, strength, one goes on, pick up your pieces and get on with it, no one will do it for you. At least that is her mind-set, and I’m guessing she hasn’t ever thought about that, she just forged on!
Our life takes us on many journeys, life happens, we control what we can and we learn to accept and live with what we can’t, and we never stop learning. Life is a wonderful journey, I have lived in places I’ve not considered, visited places (even a reluctant traveler does travel) I would have only read about. I’ve met people I’d never have had the privilege of knowing or loving, if life wasn’t so unpredictable. Even with its unwanted surprises, and unexpected joys, life most days just goes along, a mixture of whatever we make it, and well worth living. Who knows what’s around the corner?