A generation leaving
TW: Getting older, death and dying
I attended my godmother’s funeral last weekend. I’d known her, well, since birth, but haven’t really been in touch for many years. A “coulda, shoulda, woulda” situation. Hearing that she died and attending her funeral in the same Catholic church where I had been baptized as a baby brought up a whole lot of thoughts and feelings.
My godmother’s family, the Hernandezes, are embedded in my core memories, the happy ones. They were a mother, a father, and four daughters who lived just down the block in our small city. My mom was friends with and attended school with all of the daughters. When my mom got pregnant with me as a teenager and then my father died, the family was there for her. My mom asked Mrs. Hernandez, always known to me as my Nina, to be my godmother. (We won’t talk about my godfather. I barely even remember him. He probably wasn’t the best choice, but that’s neither here nor there.) I still have the little gold cross with the tiny diamond chip in the center that she gave me for my baptismal gift.
Through my early growing-up years, I remember being with them all at various times, in that choppy memory of a young child. A pet skunk (her name was Mandy), trying lobster dipped in melted butter, many cats and dogs, and me eavesdropping on phone conversations that lasted long into the night.
As an adult, I didn’t see them much, if at all. That’s how things go, sometimes. My mom stayed in touch, though, giving me updates on their health, their spouses, and kids.
Now they’re almost all gone, the three sisters dying relatively young. Nina’s husband passed earlier this summer. The family has only one sister left. I still feel like a kid; those are the “grown-ups”, the people in charge, the parental figures, and now they’re passing away. My mom is in her late sixties now with, hopefully, many years left, but it’s a bit jarring to think of that generation eventually getting to that point. I’ve been reflecting on that lately.
We’re all going to physically die one day, no doubt about it. For many, that sounds macabre or disturbing and in some ways it can be. Humans don’t like to think about death. People we love grow old and come to the natural end of this lifetime. We grieve, we miss them…