Friday, September 3, 2010

Trending Towards Extinction

...or How to make the ladies in the parish office wonder if you're:  A) one of those people who reads the obituaries for fun, or B) killing people left and right and then getting Mass cards for them.

In less than four months time our family has lost four members.  Now I'm counting the distant cousin Bryan's side lost a couple of weeks ago, but she was family to me.  On my side of the family I have lost an aunt, an uncle and now a great uncle.  I'm at a point where I find myself pondering which one came as more of a shock.  I didn't know my uncle well at all so it wasn't much of a shock to me.  My Aunt was certainly a shock.  But, nothing prepared me for the news I heard from my mom on the phone last night.  When she asked me if I remembered my Uncle Harry (my grandfather's brother) I instantly knew that she was about to tell me he passed.  What I wasn't prepared for was what came next.  My eighty-something great uncle decided to take his life.

It seems these days the younger generation (and yes, I'm counting those in their 60's and 70's as young when compared to those in their 80's and 90's) are passing long before we might think they should.  That lack of longevity concerns me.  In all honesty, I'm not even sure what I should think about my uncle's exit.  I don't think I ever thought of suicide as something the elderly would do.  If I had gotten that same type of call about someone much younger I'd still be shocked, but I'm not sure I'd be so bewildered about it.  Then again, when I tried to explain to my husband what happened in cryptic terms in front of the children, the only think I could think to say was the name of a class mate who had taken the same way out at 18.  And then I realized that I can't comprehend they whys behind such an action even for the young.

I'm tired of getting phone calls telling me that someone has passed.  Since May, I've been averaging such calls at a rate of one per month.  If this rate keeps up, the whole family will probably be extinct in about 10 years or so.  As someone who doesn't like to think about death, I find the past months to be a bit excessive. It's bad when you go to a viewing and your five year old asks "Who's in that box?" like it's no big deal.

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