My Aunt

by Peter Marus

I've been sitting here about to start editing my resume and make it all pretty and professional, but I couldn't get the thoughts of my late Aunt out of my mind.  She passed away last week and the wake and funeral was this past weekend.  


Wakes and funerals are emotionally and physically draining events.  This one was no different.  Seeing my family go through this ordeal was difficult.  I walked into the funeral parlor and saw my Uncle and cousins in there, and gave my condolences.  I started talking to them, and I sort of knew what they were going through, but at the same time I didn't.  I understood the emotions and pains that come from the loss of a parent, but that's as far as any real similar feelings end.   See, my Aunt has not been in best of health for years, due to an affliction that attacks different parts of the body.  Talking to my cousins and even my mom and other Aunt, they all sort of had a level of acceptance that this day was coming.  I don't know about these feelings that well, since the only parent I loss was a sudden event.  


What was nice and interesting is that around the room were photos on boards and in picture frames.  It was a level of comfort to see, as well as a impromptu history lesson as well about family.  There were a lot of pictures of my Aunt with my mom and dad, and me and my sister.  There were also pictures of both my family and my Uncle's family, and it was just a beautiful thing to see.  I think this is what wakes are mostly for: not to morn the loss of someone, but also celebrate and learn more about the person.  I did that in this experience seeing all the people from all the organizations my Aunt did work for.  I knew of a lot of her work, but seeing it in person amazed me and made me feel good that she was so active, especially during her time of illness.


So Monday was the funeral, where I was a pallbearer for, and the burial.  All three days, the two wakes and funeral, I stayed for all the events with my mom and sister.  Partly because I drove, but also my family needed it.  Spending the time I did with my family dug up some memories of my Aunt.  She wasn't just my Aunt, but also my Godmother (which also led to my Uncle to be my sponsor for Confirmation-seemed right and logical).  She gave me a lot of advice, which a lot of it came from her knowledge and devout faith in the Bible.  She found a lot of comfort in the Word, which after speaking to my mom I learned that she believes this came from the loss of my cousin almost 30 years ago.  Sometimes I didn't need to hear about God, but a lot of the time I was able to "get" what she was talking about.  


I also remember the times I sent at my Aunt's house.  She and my Uncle had a house in Far Hills, NJ-a place I still joke I need to make sure I have my bug spray due to the WASPs out there.  Along with this is the screaming irony that my Catholic Aunt and Uncle lived out there.  I remember as a kid going out with my mom and sister to house sit because one of my cousin's colleges had a parent day.  I also remember the Sheep my Aunt and Uncle had on the property.  They had them for their kids so they can be a part of the 4H fair, and also I'm sure there was some sort of tax break or something.  When these "parent days" came up, they JUST HAPPEN to be the same time the pregnant sheep were close to giving birth.  At some point my mom swore it was a conspiracy against her.  Speaking of the 4H fair, I remember going to that with my Aunt and Uncle, seeing the sheep there for show and sale, and it was just a fun event to go to every summer.  Even when I would go to her house for a week was fun, and quiet.  I miss those days, and just all the happiness that was always in the house.  The house was a mile off the main road and it was isolated form most noise, so there was a level of peacefulness.  The parties that used to be held there in the summer were always fun especially with the open space around the house to play and walk around. 


Before I get into a more emotional state here, I will leave this subject now.  I will say this:  Don't ever hate your family.  you may really dislike them, but do not hate provided what the problem isn't something extremely vile.  When you pass away, you should want to have an overcrowded wake and funeral, full of people there that you impacted their lives.  You don't want a wake like my one Uncle had, that only had 10 people at the wake and funeral.  He hated and drove family away.  My Aunt that passed away had the full and overcrowded one, and it was beautiful.


I also wanted to say that you are never smarter than the older generation.  Whenever you think you are, they always part some knowledge that shows that you really are not at their level.  Those who do think they are smarter then those who are older than them, they look even dumber than they are.