Sunday, March 23, 2008

a passing

The one thing that's hard to deal with, when you live far away from those you love, is death. Since living in Bahrain, I've missed the death of my uncle and the passing of my aunt, who died last night.

Isn't it sorta weird to think of it or say it as if you have missed the death... like I've missed out or something. This death marks the third in my mom's family. My mother is the oldest sister and it's very hard for her to see them passing away. They're all getting older, but I think it's probably hard when you're the oldest and the younger of your siblings are going first.

My mom didn't go to see her. She couldn't. She told me the other night that she'd rather remember her for the way she used to be, not like she was.... not knowing anyone around her, weighing only 61 lbs., her eyes having sunken into her skull, and as my cousin, her daughter, described it... she looked like a tiny werewolf.

When my mom told me this, all I could imagine was a tiny head with very short hair standing on end, pointed ears and fang teeth. My aunt didn't have fanged teeth... but I could imagine the rest of it.... and even dreamt of werewolves the night she told me this... the dream was so vivid and scary. I told Hashim the day after that it could be a movie, but after telling him what happened, he told me it was totally bizarre. Not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but anyway.

I called my mom about a week back and found out about my aunt. I knew she had been sick, falling a lot and this last time, my cousin took her to the doctor.... they were looking at putting her in a nursing home (which I so disagree with), but I had no idea it had gotten so bad - neither had my mom. After they took her to the dr. this last time, when she fell, it was determined that she had colon cancer. It was terribly advanced and she never knew. They had been treating other things all along and obviously never checked for this... even though she had symptoms. It's a shame and is probably the insurance company's fault, if I'm truthful.

When I found out, it made me so terribly sad. Aunt Patti was the sweetest woman and I have so many fond memories of her when I was a young girl. I used to spend weekends w/ her sometimes... or can at least remember this one particular time. She was a beauty in her younger days and on this particular day, she and I would lay out in the sun. I wasn't a sun worshiper, but I never said a word, after all she had invited me, out of all of my cousins, to sunbathe with her.... or it could have been that she was babysitting.... ;) I don't remember that part of it, but I like to think that it was my teenager charm!

Well, she looked great in her bikini, and I can remember getting up several times throughout our hours in the sun that day to spray her off w/ the hose. I remember enjoying that day. I can also remember being at her house during the holidays and how funky I remember her being w/ her silver tree. She was the first person I had ever seen w/ a silver tree. It was so lavishly decorated... her whole house was, matter of fact. I'd walk around for hours looking at all her collectibles, especially bells, and playing in my adult cousins' rooms upstairs.

She was married to man named Bob who had false teeth in the front and when he'd take them out, he looked like Dracula. He'd frighten me terribly when I was a young girl... chasing me around the house while I screamed and begged him to stop. I'd try to find the best hiding place, but he'd always find me and act as though he'd suck the life blood from me.... I was terrified of him and, thinking about it now, realize that I truly hated him... and wonder if he didn't do this to me for menace... but I'll never know. She divorced him and she and I never discussed it.

I can remember my aunt coming to our house and allowing me to cut her hair... however I chose. There were several times that I cut it to her scalp - in places - and she never said a word... only laughed when my mom would say something. I thought for sure I was the next big stylist/hair cutter, never realizing how bad it actually was, but she never said a bad word about it and would praise me even. :) I'm sure it was all because she'd get a half hour massage or longer afterwards and she always enjoyed those immensely. She was a teacher at a beauty school, so cutting hair was her thing. She was the first to give me my first real "do". I was in the 10th grade and she feathered my hair. OMG... I loved it... altho it took a few good days to accept it.

After that, she cut my hair for years. When I think back, she was a great hair stylist. After she got older, she had a hard time teaching. She fell behind in knowledge and ability, and eventually was let go. This is when she started going down hill. It's sad to think about how ppl let their jobs become their life and when it's gone, they stop living. I think not working truly affected her, and I think, now, that she was probably sick back then. She started to lose her memory and I seriously thought she had gotten Alzheimer's, but whose to say. Maybe the cancer had spread to her brain and that, like the colon cancer, wasn't detected by the doctors.

Anyway.... I could write a very long post about this, but I'll end it now. I will definitely remember her fondly, think about her often and hope that she's with her sister and brother in Heaven. I wonder if she knows that I'm thinking about her and I hope she can feel it, see it, and know it. I feel sad about the fact that I haven't seen her in six years and that this Christmas I got a card from her thanking me for the Christmas card that I sent to her... knowing I didn't send out cards this year and knowing it was last year that I mailed the cards.... and sad that it wasn't but a month ago that I got the card from Hashim in California and talked to my mom about how her handwriting looked liked that of a 80 + year old woman and how sad that was....

She was cremated, by her daughters, and her ashes will be scattered in Madison some place.... I pray that it's beautiful that day and butterflies are flying around her ashes.... I hope to see you again my dear Aunt Pat.


Gardens of Sand said...

My condolenses to you and yours. It is difficult losing a loved one so far away. You heal faster but the feeling of disconnect remains. A friend of mine believes that those who passed away are sleeping. I like that idea, of peacefully sleeping, resting until the time comes to meet your loved ones again.


gazza27 said...

Isent it so sad,my mrs dad died a few months ago and she's devistated about it,she cries her self to sleep every night,what can you do?this is our life!were born we grow old and we die,doesent make it ant easier,remember that poem i sent.

Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

I'm sorry for your loss.

I can sympathise with you on the emotional turmoil you go through when a loved one passes away and you're abroad; that happened to me when my maternal grandmother passed away.

May they all rest in peace and may the good memories stay with you for a long time to come.

ammaro said...

my deepest condolences... it is hard when you're far away, but not because you've "missed a death". it's usually having the people who knoew that person close together to bring them through a difficult time.. however, as long as you have loving caring people around you, even here, this hopefully shouldn't be too much of an issue.

distance is a difficult thing.

Olivia said...

Oh, I'm so sorry you've lost your aunt, but thank you for sharing your reminiscenses of her. I was sad to read about how she fell behind after losing her job. How long ago was it when you mention she may have had the cancer and she started losing her memory?

There is something about the months of March and September, I think. A friend of mine lost her granny last week, and I nearly lost mine this time last year.

However, I am glad that my last memory is of her sitting up in teh hospital bed in recovery, talking to us before we caught our flights back to London. I said my farewells to her back then, and she knew it was the last time she'd see me. That was our closure. I couldn't really afford to go to her funeral four months later and would not have wanted to see her that way anyway, to ruin my last memory of her speaking to me.

Jahooni said...

makes me too sad to even read this. i will cherish that week while she was here and remember her that way.

Puppy said...

Um Naief,

sorry for late appearance. Please accept my condolences. sorry to hear it.

How r u? You are not posting much lately, is everything ok?