Saturday, July 15, 2006

Obituary

Will wonders never cease? Not only was my mother actually mentioned in the obit, but both my daughter and I are included in the count of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Although there is a mysterious fourth grandchild listed, this is most likely a mistake on my uncle's part (the miscount, not the grandchild).

There is no mention of his Masonic ties, which is a shame. He was a Mason for over 70 years (32nd degree) and a past master. It was a thing very important and central to his life, but because of my uncle's wife's conviction that "Masons drink blood from the skulls of babies" there was no mention. When my mother talked to one of the lodge brothers (who happens to be a cousin) he mentioned that he would be honored to do a Masonic funeral, which would be more than appropriate. When my mother called my uncle he shot her down quite rudely and vehemently. So we are having a Catholic priest, the same one who performed the funeral for my grandfather's hated wife. We are not Catholic. But my uncle is in charge and all will done his way, whether it is the "right way" or not.

I am leery of seeing my uncle and his wife. My last contact with them resulted in her not letting me in their house because I was "a witch" who wore all black and consorted with the devil. You see, many years ago she found that "old time religion." You know the kind: speaking in tongues, laying on of hands, burning heretics. She's been trying to get me on the fire for years.

I am going to the funeral for my mother. To protect her, to stand by her, to support her. That is the only reason I go. My last contact with my grandfather was five and a half years ago and resulted in him rudely pushing past me and out the door of the family's store. In speaking with my "sister" (who holds that title purely because of my grandfather) she said to remember the good and let go the bad. But I find it hard to remember the good.

The reality is that he left almost no direct impact on my life whatsoever. But his actions affected it like the ripples of a stone sinking in a pond, a voice echoing in a cave. My memories are of the repercussions of his actions, of his extreme selfishness and sense of entitlement.

He was a charming man, handsome and shallow, who passed through life exerting the least amount of effort necessary. My grandfather cast no shadow. He caused those who loved him great pain simply by his inability to do.

My grandfather was a wraith, a living ghost. His death is almost an afterthought. His crimes were those of inaction, insensitivity and inability. Nothing really touched him. Already dead inside.

The hypocrisy of death, that we musn't speak ill of the dead. Does that automatically canonize a sinner? Does this mean we musn't speak the truth?

"And all men kill the thing they love,
By all let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"

from The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde

1 comment:

boogiemum said...

sorry to hear about your family's loss and difficulties. I know families can be so trying, and I don't wish that on anyone.