Only several weeks since my last post! And I couldn’t get the Sept. 5th to change to the updated Sept. 13th revision to make it a birthday post. Sigh!
Since then I’ve been to Kansas and back. Six hours each way from north Texas to Chanute. Way long for a two day trip, but it was worth it. More than worth it. We went visiting the past in a present way. Me, my daughter and mother and grandson.
As is sometimes the case with my mother, whose wish to see her dad’s grave had inspired the trip, she changed her mind once we got there. She stayed in the car a few yards away from where his grave lay. Wheelchair aside, she could have made it to his grave if she had wanted to. Whatever she was feeling, whatever her reason, she never said. Mother’s m.o. when things go too deep. Like all other things and relationships from her past.
As far as we know, her dad passed away from cancer in 1942, when Mother was just a few years out of high school and about to give birth to my older sister, Sherry. I say ‘as far as we know’ because after meeting up with my cousin after 44 years, she shared that there may have been a darker side to my grandmother than anyone had suspected previously. We all knew about the unpredictable edgy part. We just didn’t suspect it was more than a verbal thing. Maybe it had been an act of mercy, not meanness.
As with so many moments and intentions past, whatever finally caused his leave of this universe will stay immutable and unconfirmed. There was, however, an unintentional, serendipitous postscript to their union – her dad’s headstone had her mother’s name on it as well – with no dates on it since she ended up buried elsewhere. RIP, Ruben. Although you made some dark choices as well.
Out of that time came first my sister, then me, then my younger sister. Before that, my mother and her two sisters, Betty and Mary, my cousin’s mother. All of us a part of a collective kin steeped in drama and trauma and secrets including abusive behaviors turned toward animals and people.
Yet the reconnection – other than visiting graveyards – was a happy, positive one. Seeing one of the places my mother grew up, satisfying my own curiosity about Chanute, Kansas and what it was like to live there. So much of it remains unchanged, timeless in a way. Even the streets are still paved with bricks. Mother said she didn’t remember that much of it, but she seemed to have some faint recognition of the hotel we stayed in once it was daylight and she saw it from the outside.
And my cousin, who had dysfunction overwhelm heaped upon her as a child, arrived to Opie’s Pizza & Grill glowingly present in our moment with a happy husband in tow. This was in itself so gratifying. So few women in our family have had relationships work out well. This was my cousin’s second marriage, much happier than her first she said. Obviously so!
We sat and visited through lunch, Mother mostly watching us talk, engaging when she felt like it, and could understand what was being said. She’s refused any hearing devices – including the one we attempted to buy her. She insists she doesn’t have a hearing problem. Our family has lived through enough Nancy Grace and Forensic Files episodes at shrieking decibels to know better. Just sayin’.
The food and company were great and there was so much more to know about our family than my cousin was able to share over a single lunch. We caught her up on Mother’s part besides what she could tell on her own. When lunch was over, we got in our car and followed Vicki to the cemetery where Mother’s dad was buried. My cousin had placed some yellow plastic flowers there. Then we visited my Grandma Weaver’s grave – Mother’s grandmother. Another bright sprig of plastic flowers placed by my cousin.
We said our goodbyes back by the cars and would’ve headed back downtown but we spied a yard sale in progress and stopped. My cousin and her husband did a turnaround and came back to check it out too. We all laughed that yard sale addiction might be hereditary too. I bought my cousin a wallhanging about friendship, something for her to keep as a reminder of the day and our reunion.
We’re planning another one sometime by or before the holidays. Just a gathering of leftover treasures from the dust that came before.