Extended family ups and downs
The good news is that my cousin Mark (whom I haven't seen in years) is safe and sound following Hurricane Katrina. Mark lived on a houseboat in Slidell, Louisiana. He left in good time and is in Bloomington, Indiana, staying with his mom. But he's probably lost everything, and probably doesn't have a job to go back to. It'll take time for him to sort it all out, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, my Uncle Charlie died this week in Miamisburg, Ohio (a suburb of Dayton). He was 81. He and Aunt Marge shared a room in a nursing home. My Aunt Pat called from Florida to say that he smiled at his nurse, looked at Aunt Marge, then turned his head and breathed his last. Not a bad way to go.
Uncle Charlie's funeral is Saturday, and none of his siblings can attend. Aunt Evelyn in Florida is very frail and undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; Aunt Pat (also in Florida) is also not very well; she and Uncle Bud have just moved their 20-year-old granddaughter in with them, too, and she is getting established with school and job and so forth. Uncle Bill (Newell) in South Bend is undergoing tests for an elevated PSA, and not up to going. It may turn out that my father's funeral seven years ago will be the last time that family was all together.
Anyway, my sister Claire wants to go to the funeral, and I figure I ought to play dutiful nephew and go. As the youngest in my family, I've never kept up with all my cousins scattered across the landscape. My sisters chatter on about people -- and recognize them when we meet at the odd funeral (and given the Collins clan, "odd" is the word) -- but I feel like a stranger. Nevertheless, I'll enjoy the day with Claire and endure what I must at the funeral.
That last sentence brings to mind a bit of family lore. My mother had a gossipy old friend in Greenwood, Indiana, whom she kept up with after we moved to Spencer (when I started 2nd grade). The friend's name was Marian. Marian attended a funeral where she ran into all sorts of people she hadn't seen for years and years. In relating her experience to Mother, she said, "I don't know if it's proper to say this, Margaret, but I enjoyed
that funeral so much."