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April 1, 2016: Answered and Unanswered Questions

Right before leaving Palmer for Portland, I read an essay in the New York Times by a woman who’d just written a book on the subject of writers and their attitudes about death. In this article she said that she regretted that she didn’t get certain questions answered by her parents before their respective deaths. And she subsequently discovered that others’ spouses felt similarly.

I thought I’d feel this way – that after both my parents’ deaths that I’d be left with many unanswered questions. I really don’t know that much about my past family history. And I at times wish that I knew more because this would further shape my incomplete self-identity.

Today El asked Uncle Bob questions about our female side of the family – we were sitting in Pacifica, just hanging out, passing the time. Once in a while mother would chime in with a fact or two. I learned a few piecemeal things, like, for instance, that my Aunt Peggy went to art school but did not finish most likely because she became pregnant with my cousin Barbara. And Bob, in a loud voice, affirmed this: Mother did finish, graduated from Mass Art in 1953.

There are of course opinions about relationships – which relationships were good and which one’s weren’t – my Uncle Bob maintained that my Great Aunt Ruth and her husband Hal had a wonderful relationship---she married him at a very late age, this was after her mother died. I don’t know if this was so – I just thought it weird she married so late – in her 60s, I think.

Lots of talk about past events are surfacing. El has talked a great deal about specific childhood events – some accounts I don’t think are true. But I refuse to refute her because I know that long term memory is subject to the point of not being reliable.

I wish I had a more complete historical overview of both sides of the family. I’m not going to get it from my parents, and that’s okay. If I really want it, I can get it from my cousin Dennis on my father’s side, and my cousin Peggy Anne on my mother’s side. Both are ardent genealogists. He’s been to Ireland and met with family members. And next spring Peggy Anne is going to Scotland and doing the same.

As for questions about unresolved issues – I don’t have any. Nor do I have any desire to rehash the past. Maybe this is because in the past I have written at length about such things, and maybe come to an understanding and acceptance of such things. Dunno.

Today, just chatting, there has been a feeling of warmth and understanding between the four of us. Uncle Bob is the way he is because of his own upbringing, which in some ways was similar to ours. Like our mother, our Grandma Guinan was also a functional alcoholic. Mother said that she was a real alcoholic because she stashed her hard liquor in the back of the toilet. My mother never did this. When you get right down to it, drinking itself was the problem.

We are all doing a good job of dealing with immediate concerns. Mother was wanting to poop in a bedpan as opposed to diapers. El made several calls and actually located a nice pink one that now has her name on it. The question is, can we get the staff to put it to use? They are busy and bedpans are difficult to use. They also, unlike diapers, have to be monitored. I might not have thought that a bedpan would be the way to go – of course El did.

I am today taking a free ride on the positive energy train. And that’s just fine. No questions, I guess this is a good thing.

Next: 89. 4/2/16: Death, Looking at it Sideways

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