A letter came in the mail today. I was reminded about a generation so much greater than ours. While we are sending emails, incapable of being bothered by the post-office, my Great Aunt Marcy sent my son a card for his 4th birthday. It’s not just a card this time, it’s a reminder. When she lost her husband of 50 years I couldn’t be bothered to send a single thing while she, in return, never once forgets a birthday of her great, great grandnephew. I couldn’t bear to open the card and see only, “Love Aunt Marcy” instead of adding “and Uncle Charles” to the second row.
I stood at the back door and cried.
Earlier today I was reminded that while I have “friends” on facebook I don’t know what they’re up to. People are having babies, graduating, changing jobs. All while I sit and stare at a computer screen 8 hours a day and wrangle children in my “spare” time. There is a book deal! There is traveling! There are speaking proposals to be done! And yet, my kitchen sits neglected, my friends grow entire human beings and my children await another year of life and summer and fall.
My Uncle Charles died while I was in the middle of a travel spree earlier this year. His life was a good one, he was a strong man, although handicapped by a motor cycle accident many years before I was born (the least reason of which I refuse to let Mr. Flinger purchase one of those death traps). I knew him as 100% amazing, strong and intelligent, always a proud father and grandfather, uncle and husband. He was old forever, since I was ten perhaps, endlessly aging at an impossibly slow rate. He would live forever, I thought, because they do: Your family. They live forever and you forget how short and unforgiving life truly is. Thirty years is nothing to someone in their fifties. They’ve conquered teen-age years, early adult, middle age. They are forever etched in their families mind as equally old: always the same, un-aging until the day they suddenly die reminding you of reality.
So it was that I did not make my Uncle Charle’s funeral. Traveling from Dallas, to return to Austin for SXSW, there was little time between. San Antonio felt a decade away, a rent-a-car, two young children unable to see their own mom. My Aunt had her family, her nieces and nephews, my aunts and uncles, her daughters and sons. She was loved and my Great Uncle Charles was rejoiced and I, from afar, joined them. Until this moment I did not think twice. My family needed me home. My work needed me present. My children wanted their own mother.
Still, only two months later, a card arrived reminding me that I will never be your Aunt Marcy. I will not ever fill the shoes of my Grandmother. I will not walk in the ways of those so much more wise, those who love beyond the now, those who see beyond the years. There is reason to live close to those who age before you: to live near extended family. To understand the wisdom of years and wrinkles that we can only imagine. At mid-thirty my age feels heavy. I feel the burden of time. Speaking to those whose lives span eternal decades remind me: a card, though simple, scribbled with ink, and stuck with a “forever” stamp, is more than just a card. It is an entire mindset of love and forgiveness: One I hope to live up to one day.
12 guests here now.
You are your own wonderful.
By Annika on 2011 05 31
Awe, love. Thank you. XOXO
By Mrs. Flinger on 2011 05 31
love you, Leslie, and Im sorry for your loss. thank you for sharing your heart here so vulnerably. *HUG*
By Frelle on 2011 05 31
Holy COW what a lovely lovely post and reminder about what is important.
By Jamie on 2011 06 02
Lovely post - now go send her a card. She’ll like it. Doesn’t have to be deep although after reading this you know you’re capable of that. Just a hello, i’ve been thinking of you.
By Jessica on 2011 06 04
My Grandma was a card sender, I remember how excited I would be to see her scribbly handwriting in the mail. She’s been gone twelve years and I still take out her Thanksgiving and Halloween cards every year to look them over…
I’m like you, not the best written communicator and there’s something sad about that. That’s how it is now though, right? Sorry to hear about your Great Uncle, he sounded like a helluva guy.
By casey.wilson on 2011 06 07