Saturday, June 19, 2010

Remembering a Death - Being 60 (week 7 - by Margaret Ullrich)

For some reason Pop decided that everyone had to honor the memory of Uncle Tony by driving upstate and visiting his gravesite every year.  Of course, we'd also drop by Aunt Kate's for a bite.  I don't know how Aunt Kate felt about hosting a barbecue for in-laws and relatives she hadn't seen for nearly 2 decades, but she agreed to fire up the grill.  

Not everyone shared Pop's enthusiasm.

Relatives, especially in a large family, can develop into quite different individuals.  Over a few decades there isn't much they share outside of the DNA.  Some folks like to gather the family around a large dinner table.  Others like to gather with friends around a few bottles.  Different strokes for different folks.  

In a large family you can avoid a relative or 2 pretty easily.  During the 16 years after the 'Fur Coat Incident' my family had settled into a routine.  Some relatives we saw regularly.  Some monthly.  Others just during Christmas and Easter. 

Pop told everyone he expected a real crowd to show up.  No dice.  Our regulars and monthlies had decided they'd done their bit when they went to the funeral.  No sense seeing a guy more after he was dead than they saw of him while he was alive.  

The only relatives who joined Pop on his pilgrimage were our C & E's, a couple who, like Kate and Tony, enjoyed their booze.  Pop was a 'glass of wine with Sunday dinner' fellow.  My boyfriend agreed to come along just to add to the body count.

The gravesite visit went quickly.  

After the barbecue, the elders - including Aunt Kate's boyfriend - just sat around making small talk.  Pop was still annoyed about not being able to rally the troops.  He'd seen the fuss made over the JFK site during the Robert Kennedy funeral, for Christ's sake.  Even without booze, Pop could get sentimental.  

My crowd - Tony's 4 kids, my sister and brother, my boyfriend and I - wandered off.  I had a copy of Cosmopolitan, the Bible of teenage girls in the 60s, and there was an article on Numerology, about what is revealed by one's name.  It filled the time.  We even did the numbers for my Aunt's dog, Mona.

That was the last time we went upstate.

Rest in peace, Uncle Tony.

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