Welcome Back You Monster

From Saturday, April 9, 2016…

I called my Mom yesterday.

She called me back…

Aunt Mary has always been a mystery to me.  My years growing up she lived in Michigan, which felt a part of us because so much family lived there, but family from the grandma’s sister’s side, Aunt Lena.  All my grandma’s kids – my aunts and uncles – were here, except Aunt Mary.

She was never married.  She always worked. 

Her visits from Michigan were often enough to be counted as kin, but never kindred.  She talked plenty about moving to Washington.  She finally did it when Grandma started showing signs of failing health.  We got to know her a bit better, though her personality was always more akin to Grandpa’s then Grandma’s; reserved and quiet and slower and such.

After grandma died, Aunt Mary stayed around, but things changed.  She bore a burden.  Work was hard to keep.  Smoking was hard to hide.  Health was hard to maintain.

Her token presence at holidays and some birthdays always seemed like a concession for the lonely old lady she was becoming.  I don’t say that with disdain.  I say it as truth.  I love her, as does the rest of the family, yet she’s alone.  No marriage means no husband or kids or grand kids. 

I suppose our kids and others’ filled that void for her, but inadequately so to be sure.  When you’ve been alone your whole life, for reasons no one fully knows, it is near impossible to ever know the void, let alone fill it.

Yet I love her; we love her, and now she’s dying.

I called my Mom yesterday.

She called me back…

“Aunt Mary is in the ER.”

By the end of the day the doctors learned of a tumor on her brain, nearly her whole right brain. 

She’d collapsed a few times recently.  She lost awareness.  Things escalated fast. 

Probably an aggressive tumor.  Maybe benign.  Probably not.

She’s going into surgery now.  Per her life, no one is there; she is alone.  Off she goes to have her head opened up and tumor removed. 

I’m moved deeply, but slowly. 

I love her as kin, but not as kindred. 

She’s old. 

God is kind. 

Cancer is cancer. 

It lived in the margins of our family for several years.  Welcome back you monster.  Welcome back.


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