One hundred thirteen words summed up a life of 82 years. A color
photograph as one final visual reminder, a last day's itinerary
for scheduling a farewell in among the other chores.
Her last biography didn't tell that she was two when her mother died or
that she was raised by a sister, eleven other siblings and by a hard-
working, hard drinking father, that she then raised that sister's children,
that she cared for the sick in the family: her mother-in-law and grandmother-
in-law, my father in his last years. Nothing was said of her fear of birds
after an encounter with a confused and frightened chicken, nothing was said
of her dislike of taxidermy-ed groundhogs. I suppose not many knew of her
love of good ice cream over the last few years, but everyone knew of her love
of beer all through her life (but that wasn't mentioned, either). There was
so much unsaid.
My realization that there were missing details came too late to relate to
those who met to remember her. That's typical, the really good ideas come five
minutes after it is too late.
It's too late now. But, I write to set some of the record straight, because
it doesn't matter if everyone knows, just so that someone does.
She became my family mentor as we grew closer, telling me stories about
her brother, that he never told me as a father, things about half of my
heritage that no one else thought important enough to share. Sometimes
my eyes would go wide in wonder, but all times we would end up laughing at some
revelation of the oddest of social systems: the family.
So many stories that I heard, secrets that I learned, but I feel that there
was more to tell, and now, no more.