A few days ago my uncle passed away, he was eighty-nine. That left my aunt, who I freely admit is not at a hundred percent, to try to pick up the pieces of her life as best she can. They had been together for more than seventy years, a number I am still trying to wrap my mind around, and I realize she’s going to need help… lots of it. Anyway, some of their life-long friends seem to have effectively taken over her life, making all the choices on her behalf (up to and including burying my uncle, who considered himself Jewish, in a coffin that was decorated with a huge crucifix). I know these people mean well, I know they are doing their best, and I am grateful for everything they are doing, I would be lost without their help, but at the same time that gratitude seems to have become a trap because there have been some instances in which I feel those friends have crossed the line, making my aunt feel both humiliated and disrespected. I tried to point the problem out to one of them, but I was summarily dismissed, I tried to contact other family members to ask for some backup, but most of them are too caught up in their own grief, so here I am, wondering where the line between caring and abuse happens to be, and feeling utterly powerless. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
Something funny happened today that got me thinking: I was talking to my aunt and she asked me if I was going to be writing today. As she said that she gestured with her hand as if holding a pen and writing on a piece of paper. It was a little thing, but it made me realize that when I think of a hand gesture to signify ‘writing’ I no longer think in terms of pen and paper, I think in terms of typing.
When did my mind make that switch? I don’t know, but I have to admit that the realization caught me somewhat off guard.