Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Last of A Generation

My aunt passed away this week, she was 86 years old, and the last surviving sibling of my father.

I guess it wasn't a surprise for any of us. She had been sick for quite a while and had lost her husband not even two months before. But what struck me was how she was the last one. In a span of seven short years, my father and all his siblings have passed away. A whole generation has been, and gone.

This saddens me, although I know the passing of generations is a part of life, because those times, those places, those people - that past - is now no more. Someday, I know, me and my siblings will be gone too, and gone will be our collected memories of the times we lived in and of each other.

My father and his siblings were Depression Era kids, and when I heard them tell their stories from their childhood I couldn't help but imagine them as if I was watching old black and white films of The Little Rascals. I could see them plainly - independent and scrappy, and always in a lot of trouble.

My aunt was perhaps the scrappiest one and always the most independent. For a woman, she was truly "liberated" in an era when it wasn't the "thing" to do. And perhaps liberated isn't the word. My aunt said and did whatever she wanted to and didn't care what anyone else thought. I won't say this was the best thing to do, because I have heard she hurt many people's feelings in the process, especially her mother's, but I'm sure she must have regretted some of it though. Then who knows?

She was gruff and tough, basically the type of woman who didn't take any crap. She was a truck driver for a time, and a taxi driver in Detroit. She smoked, drank, and swore, and didn't shave. (And here Madonna thought she was such a trend-setter!) She was married and divorced several times, no one knows for sure how many. She settled down later in life. She loved bingo and reading, she played the organ and gardened. She always had a host of yapping lap dogs and a talking Myna bird named Charlie. All in all, she was quite a character, to say the least. And now she's gone.

So, here's to the last of a generation. Here's to my aunt and her brothers and sister. Here's to all of them. May they live on in the family's memory.

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