I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I have an amazing family. They’re not only close-knit and supportive; they are fun people whom I love to spend time with.

When my parents grew up, they lived next door and/or within walking distance of their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Family was ever-present. During my childhood – although my grandparents and such weren’t next door or down the street – they were all within a few miles and we saw them just about every single weekend.

Times have now changed. Much of my generation no longer lives in the same town in which we grew up – although the majority of us do live within a 2-hour drive. My cousins and I talk often about how important it is to us that our kids grow up together as we all did. Maybe they don’t get to see each other every single weekend, but we do everything in our power to make sure it’s about once a month.

This past weekend was one such family weekend. It wasn’t a planned weekend, but rather developed out of the fact that my great aunt – the current eldest living relative at 93 years old – was hospitalized unexpectedly. She became unresponsive during the middle of the night and her family thought perhaps it was a stroke. The good news is that there was no stroke. Nothing wrong, in fact. Just old age running its course.

Throughout her stay in the hospital, Auntie Christine did regain consciousness and spent the majority of the time talking non-stop, in a very animated way, to all of our relatives that have passed on … including my mom. This, of course, led the family to believe that her time to leave us must be drawing near – hence the unexpected family gathering.

I arrived in town on Friday afternoon and went to see Auntie on Saturday, expecting to see a woman clearly dying. To my surprise, it was quite the contrary. She was alert, aware, and in the present tense – for the most part. She did, however, tell us that Jesus is ready to take her and that she is ready to go.

There are so many benefits to coming from a large family, yes. But in the last few years I’ve learned that there are things that aren’t so great about large families – that being that often times death comes in groups of more than one all within a short period of time. Just a little over 2 years ago, we lost our family matriarch and two other elders within 30 days of one another. And now it feels as if we’re bracing for the next go-around.

There were other changes I noticed this weekend. V’s favorite cousin – a 13-year old – is no longer as interested in playing with him as he once was. He’d rather play on the computer. And my one aunt who always has her shit together and is the glue of our family is starting to fray at the seams. More than a few aunts are starting to suffer from what they call “CRS” – as in “can’t remember shit”. During a recent family gathering which we were unable to attend, one of my aunts announced that V finally received his first haircut – ever. How nice of her to share the news. And yes, he needed a haircut but had yet to receive one. Not only that, he’s had three haircuts since he’s been born – so the first haircut ever? Not sure where that came from …

Growing old can suck. I think about this all of the time now. When I talk to one of my relatives, I find myself thinking “she’s 68 years old and she’s still full of live and energy … and when I’m 68 years old, V will only be 30 years old”. With the upcoming birth of my second child, I will be 41 years old – and that has me suddenly obesessed with doing whatever I can to get in the best physical and mental shape as possible. I do not want to die young and leave my children without their mom. And I so want to live to be a grandmother. But that, my friends, has very little chance of happening unless I make some significant life changes now. The good news is that it’s not too late for change. And change can be a good thing. Fingers are crossed …

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