Life’s Loyalties

I spent most of Sunday catching up on the simple chores–cooking for the week, laundry piles, scrubbing dishes.  I finally fit in finishing Shrek Forever After and watching The Invisible (not good) and a re-watch of The Manchurian Candidate (the remake with Denzel and Liev; spooky fantastic).  Then I caught up on some reading. 

In the midst of it all, I pushed aside the fact that I’ll be traveling to South Carolina at some point this week for a cousin’s funeral.  The only positive element of the trip will be the reading time afforded on the plane.  I haven’t seen him since another cousin’s wedding circa 2000. 

He is dead and for that I feel sorry.  Sorry that he’s been in the hospital for weeks with tubes, prodding and not getting better.  Sorry that his sister and mother, my oldest aunt, had to hold steady vigil watching it all.  Sorry that we are all converging for a man many of us barely knew.

Today, we all exist in our separate silos, in our separate pockets of the country.  We don’t chat otherwise and it has been this way for decades.  Since before I was even born. That’s the deal with both sides of my family.  We don’t know each other on a personal level.  Growing up, there were no extended summer exchanges spent at each other’s homes.  Visits were brief and discussions high-level impersonal.  The elders would rehash the same past events–this person’s illness, that person’s job, the other person’s illegitimate kid–again and again.  The kids would quietly mingle in the yard. 

Yet we each venture together out of some sense of obligation.  Some moral sense of duty.  Mine is loyalty to my aunt.  If not for her presence, I wouldn’t be going.  I’m not saying that stance is right, but that is the truth of where we are as blood strangers to each other.  And sometimes in life, things just are what they are.

Flickr image by Robb North

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