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Old 12-25-18, 07:41 PM
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Uncle's funeral...

Not sure if this is the right forum....


My Uncle passed away last week. He was my dad's sister's husband. After grandma on that side of the family died, I didn't see my aunt and uncle again until after college. My dad and aunt basically stopped talking to each other. I think they did see each other at my cousin's wedding, but I wasn't there for that. My aunt was not impressed with a bunch of things that were happening in our household, my mom's behavior, I don't know, I guess I'm not sure specifically why they fell out of touch, I don't know if there was one straw that broke the camels back necessarily, but there were a lot of reasons that my aunt would want to distance herself from dad and mom.

Grandma died when I was 6?7? so, it was almost 20 years until I next saw aunt and uncle. My cousin and my sister got back in touch via facebook and then I think we all vaguely reconnected. You know, at least, got to see some pictures of each other.

When I finally did see my aunt and uncle again, I stayed with them for a weekend while I was recording on a couple of tracks for my band mates' album. I also met up with them for lunch, on a separate trip. I could have tried to see them other times too, because I've done other gigs near them, but I didn't get a visit organized...**sigh** I don't know...

My sister is much closer to my aunt, I mean, she's 6 years older than I am so she was older anyways when grandma died so they knew each other for longer. It was really not good for her that grandma died and then we barely saw our aunt anymore. My sister is strong but, she got a hard time from our parents. She needed other loving adults. Anyways, they have been very happily back in touch. They definitely get each other and share a lot with each other. I think it's so awesome that they have such a strong connection.

For my part, technically, it's like 99% probable that I'm not actually even related to my aunt or my dad or my cousin or my grandma. Mom cheated on Dad all the time and I'm almost certainly the result of one of those flings. So that throws a whole other awkward dimension in there.

When I stayed with my aunt and uncle, we did talk about that a little. My aunt is not one to beat around the bush. Right at the beginning, she was taking me around where she works, and she was introducing me to her colleagues and saying, "this is my niece, she's visiting for the weekend! I haven't seen her in almost 20 years!!"
At one point someone asked me, "oh, so, are you [insert Native American tribe here] as well then?" (Aunt and sister are proud of their heritage, which I pretty clearly do not share, if you just look at me.)
Me: "...uhrrr-" **looks sideways at aunt, wondering what she knows or thinks**
And my aunt said something to the extent that that is yet to be determined, or unlikely or something. So I thought "ok then, so, she knows...But, she's still happy to see me I think..." Like I wonder am I some stranger intruding? Who am I? What right do I have to say I'm family? I mean, I always thought of her as my aunt, my cousin as my cousin, though I barely saw them...they were still the embodiment of what aunts and cousins and uncles are, to me. I ain't got no other people to call those things!

Anyways.

Later on in my visit, we did talk a little bit more about that. I can't remember if I asked, or if they brought it up, but my aunt told me about my cousin having adopted children, and how they are family through and through. I felt at the time, though I can't remember her exact words, that she meant that that extended to me as well. I spent an afternoon with my uncle too, while my aunt was at work, and he asked me about the situation again, was it certain that dad was not my dad? But he pointed out essentially how wonderful it is to be able to connect with other good people, even over time or space or uncertain blood connections??? He was a sweet sweet man, very generous, and I really did feel welcomed by them both and that they were happy to see me after all that time. They are both sweet, upright people, and my aunt is SO hard working, intimidatingly admirable in a good way, if that makes sense.

Anyways, so...my uncle had Parkinson's from exposure to agent orange in Vietnam, and also was developing dimensia when I stayed with them. Taking care of him was already taking a toll on my aunt at that time, which was...3 years ago I guess. He moved into a different living situation since I saw them, where he could get care. My sister went to have Thanksgiving with my aunt in November, but, it sounds like the dimensia was taking over and he was having mood swings. I used to work and volunteer at an elderly daycare, and I got whacked a couple times when I got too close to someone who was confused from dimensia. So I know that can be hard, I can understand why my aunt recommended they not go visit my uncle. Probably best to not have that be my sister's last memory of him, if that was happening...

Anyways, my sister sent a group text to let the siblings and our step grandma know the night uncle passed away. Now, the two siblings on the text, they are actually half siblings from my mom's previous marriage, so he is not actually their uncle, nor is she their aunt. And my step grandma, obviously, no relation there either. My siblings' and step grandma's immediate concern would be for my sister's loss.

I haven't said anything to my aunt, since finding out, haven't been in touch. I know I'm selfish. I don't know what to say. I'm terrified that I am a neglectful family member, like my parents. But then I freeze when I should do something. What do I do? What do I say?? If I was a better family member, wouldn't I be in touch more? Doesn't this put that in stark relief? I'm an adult, I can't blame my poor communication on my parents anymore.

I called my dad the next morning to let him know, in case he hadn't been told. He and my sister are not on speaking terms, and I don't have a sense of whether or not my aunt would tell him? It was the first he had heard of it.

The funeral is the day after tomorrow. My sister is going, it's about a 5 and a half hour drive for her. My brother (who *is* actually my dad's son and *is* actually my aunt's nephew and my cousin's cousin) is on the other side of the country, so I don't think he'll be going. I don't know if my mom and dad are going. It would not surprise me if they didn't. It's a 6 hour drive for me. I'm not sure where I would stay...but, I have a friend who is near there that I could ask for a place to crash for a night...

How *does* one be a good family member over so much time, space, and complication? How odd is it for it to only occur to me last night, um, wow Willow, shouldn't you be going to your uncle's funeral?? I have the time off, it's winter break. It's a long *** drive by myself. Is it presumptuous of me to go? And what if I don't go?? I'm a crap niece/cousin, but I do respect them and admire them. I don't want to make things awkward, not really knowing my cousin, or even, doubtfully being related to him. I haven't seen him in oh, probably 23 or 24 years. Haven't met any of his family.

Ack. What does one do? It seems like the right thing to do is to try to see if I can make the logistics work to go.

Help oh forum help.
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Old 12-25-18, 07:56 PM
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Re: Uncle's funeral...

Send a nice card and flowers or something good to eat and beg off with love.
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Old 12-25-18, 08:10 PM
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Re: Uncle's funeral...

Willow, I'm so sorry for your loss. I think you should call your aunt, give your condolences and just ask her if she'd like you to come to the funeral or if there's anything else you could for her. Maybe even just telling her that you thought he was a sweet, sweet man would help a bit.

I've got a feeling she would be happy to hear from you and I think she'd appreciate that you got in touch during a difficult time even when at other times maybe you didn't. Also, considering that the family.situation was complicated (her and your parents falling out) I doubt she'd hold it against you that you haven't been in touch more. From what I've seen older relatives will alwaYs consider you to be the baby and hopefully cut you some slack for it .

Maybe I'm misunderstanding the situation or maybe I missed something in your post but I think chances are shed be much happier to hear from you than not. And if not, then I don't think that's your fault anyway.

I don't think it matters that you might not be related to them by blood. It seems like they tried to explicitly tell you that it doesn't matter and that you are family in any case.

Huge hugs. It sounds like both a sad and stressful situation.
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Old 12-26-18, 10:47 PM
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Re: Uncle's funeral...

Ok well I’ve pretty much succeeded in procrastinating on a decision.

The other thing for me is that...I do really want time at home. I’m tired and a little burned out on everything. I’ve scrambled to keep up with work every week of the school year so far, I feel like I’ve been traveling constantly for the past year and a half, and now I finally have a chance to have a vacation AT HOME. I have been esssentially pretending to myself that I don’t have email or Facebook messages. I hate it when people call me cuz they might want something. My apartment is a pigsty. I’m...having a hard time sticking to my own bare minimum standards. I’ve had these dreams about my home when I was a kid, those are bad dreams, and it’s just...I’m tired. Anyways, I need a break, part of the break needs to be sitting in silence while my vegetable brain sort of solidies again, like a couple of days of that, and the next part of the break is me looking around and going, “oh hey, I have some time to take care of some of this crap, maybe then I will be human again.”
I feel pretty pathetic though.
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Old 12-27-18, 12:26 AM
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Re: Uncle's funeral...

Hang in there mate there's a huge emotional toll adding to the situation. Just rest and sort out all the other **** later
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Old 12-27-18, 01:58 AM
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Re: Uncle's funeral...

What a tangled mess willow girl! Here is where I may come off as callous or cold or even selfish... Dont go. If you really feel the need to call the aunt or if you think it will really help her and you then go ahead. But what will your presence actually do other than make you feel like you handled your obligations? And its totally OKAY that it is an obligation. That is something you need to hear. Its not like the telephone or internet only works one way right? You do not have a lot of answers to questions regarding paternity, familial connections etc. It sounds like even though your aunt was nice it would still be an obligation and I dont know about you but I wouldnt want to be an obligation once I am gone. It sounds like you need some self care. It sounds like you have been super busy and neglecting willow and she deserves some rest. Screw the house. If you get to it fine. some of it fine. NONE of it, FINE. Cuddle up with the tv remote and your favorite blanket. It will do you wonders. If you do call your aunt have a plan ready in case the convo turns towards whether or not you would be coming. Have a pre-planned gig excuse or workload but I urge you not to go. I think you will end up hurt.
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