There are a host of rules on blog etiquette. I don't read them much, because every time I do, I find out I've stuck my foot in my mouth again and done something wrong. Jesus distilled His rules down to two basic ones that cover all the rest: Love God, love your neighbor. Blog rules are not so simple. And I am afraid I am about to break another one today.
Can I just pour out my heart? Because I am pretty sad right now. That's the way it is, and it isn't a different way.
I called my parents on Sunday. I do that fairly often. Call on Sunday, I mean. Usually I just talk to my dad. My mom isn't much for talking on the phone anymore, but this past Sunday she got on the phone. She had a list of questions she wanted to ask me, because we are flying to Minnesota for Christmas this year. So she got on the phone and said, "Let me just find my list... oh where did it go?" Finally she found it. She paused and said, "Oh Ruthie, I need to tell you that at 6 a.m. this morning my dear, sweet wonderful sister Loie died."
And I sucked in my breath and I just couldn't believe it. I know that Loie has not been well at all. I knew that she was living in a hospital bed in the livingroom of her daughter Molly's house, with daily hospice care. But this is my Aunt Loie, who lived on the farm and made custard pies. Loie who sewed a little blue outfit with a bonnet that both Shannon and Laura wore as babies. Loie who sent us two handmade plaid teddy bears. Loie whom I always thought of when we used to call Laura "Baby Lo-lo", because Loie sometimes went by Lo for short, too. Loie who loved her four children and ten grandchildren and growing number of great grandchildren so much, but still had time to remember her niece in New York once in awhile.
Last summer I visited my parents while Shawn had a business trip in Minneapolis. I brought a bunch of old pictures home with me from my mom and dad's. Later, stricken with guilt, I scanned them all and made copies and put them into scrapbooks for my brother and my sister... I just mailed them off last week.
While making the scrapbooks, I remember looking at a picture of my mom with her four sisters, the five of them, and thinking about how I missed my Aunt Ruth's funeral last year (2007) in November. Last Christmas my cousin Rachel wrote to me and told me what a blessing it was to see relatives she hadn't seen in years at Aunt Ruth's funeral, that she was sorry I hadn't been able to be there. I looked at my aunts, in their younger years, and I thought, "The next time there is a funeral, I want to be able to be there." Maybe that is a morbid thought, but that's what I thought. I want to be a part of the family. I want to be there.
Who knew the way things would turn out? Well, God did, certainly.
Aunt Loie died on December 14, and her funeral is scheduled for December 23. Ironically, our plane tickets are for December 23. We are leaving at 4:17 p.m. (supposedly), and arriving in Minneapolis at 9:50 p.m., or something like that. Late. After the day is over.
Instead of being there to share this time with my family and grieve together and remember together and encourage and comfort each other, I will just be putting everyone out at the end of a long day.
The tickets are from one of those cheap discounters, the type of ticket that cannot be transferred or changed in any way. There is less that we can do than if we hadn't had any plans to begin with.
And even if we did throw my ticket away and just buy me a different one, leaving the previous day (it is not feasible to do that for the whole family), I don't think I have it in me to change plans, have everything ready for everyone a day early, and then travel by myself on my birthday.
My family doesn't care that I won't be there. They don't expect it. Nobody is putting any pressure on me. They would probably think it odd if I went to great lengths to get there.
But I care. I am very, very sad. I guess it boils down to selfishness. Nobody needs me, but I feel like I need them.
This is my mom and my aunts. Aunt Ruth is sitting on the sofa. Aunt Teda (Priscilla) is on the arm of the sofa. Aunt Loie (Lois) is behind Teda, and my mom is standing next to Loie. Aunt Nunie (Eunice) is in front on the right. Only Nunie, Teda and Bonnie are left, and Teda has a very bad case of Alzheimer's.