Never Surrender

It was a strange spring. B had had her baby, and her parents now knew that she’d given her up for adoption. She decided to try and spend more time at home to repair the rift between her and her parents. My great uncle had died, leaving us all shocked and sad and wondering what would become of our tightly knit extended family three hours away. My aunt was talking of moving away, which would mean the virtual end of the clan to the northwest.

After much careful thought and consultation with our new family therapist, Paul, my mother decided to send me to Grand Rapids for a month in the summer to spend time with my newly widowed great aunt. My brother had been sent away for a chunk of time last summer and that had seemed to work well in keeping us apart and his anger directed at other avenues than myself. But this summer was my brother’s chance to take Driver’s Ed for free through the school system, and it consisted of weeks of classes. My mother didn’t want to have to pay for a private driver’s ed program. As it was, he was already nearly a year late in taking the training.

And my aunt needed me. She was all alone in the great house she’d shared with my uncle and she was horribly sad and depressed. I couldn’t imagine my sweet great aunt depressed; she was always the sunny light of any family gathering, bustling in the kitchen making food and making sure everything ran smoothly. But she was. My uncle had meant everything to her. She wasn’t even sleeping in their bedroom. Everyone was worried about her, so when my mother asked if I’d be willing to go spend a month with her, it didn’t take too much convincing. I loved the idea of spending time with her and trying to give back something to the woman who had given so much to my mother and our family.

I never saw how depressed my aunt was, at all. She was of the generation that kept up appearances. My presence in the house forced her to wake up every morning and put a smile on her face. Or least keep it tear free. She took me for walks, she took me to movies, she taught me how to make pie crust, she showed me the beautiful plants in her garden. I helped her clean the house and get it ready to be put on the market to sell. I heard as she made her plans; she would leave Michigan and spend part of the year with her daughter in Virginia and part of the year with her son in California.

It was a month that changed the way I looked at the world.

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One Response

  1. […] where my Uncle would sometimes serve Bloody Marys on Sunday mornings in the spring.  The bedroom where I spent a summer living after my uncle passed away, because my aunt was too sad to stay in there without him.  And […]

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