Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Death in the family

My husband's aunt, 98 years old, died this week. She was a French lady who lived her life in the same country, possibly the same village, possibly almost the same house, for almost a century. What does that feel like, I wonder? To have lived through two world wars, and witnessed so many changes in the world - the advent of television, air travel, space travel, cars, computers, cell phones?

Is it possible that major changes happening all around could leave one unchanged? And if one does experience revelations, insight, enlightened thinking, revised belief - apart from getting older - what is the significance of such change kept to oneself?

I am just supposing that a person living 90 years must have all sorts of attitudinal and perspective upheavals. In less than 60 years, I have felt myself change every decade, sometimes in a year, or in a day!

What was her name, I ask my husband. I don't know I never met  her, he says. Which is more final, the death, or the impossibility of ever meeting a person. Can we ever know who in the family has her traits, her nose, her airs, her prejudices, her carriage, her stubbornness or her generosity? Do photographs exist to show what she was like? Was she ever curious about her sister's family, the children now scattered far from France? Is it worthwhile to know?

Have we "progressed" to live so far from native tribal lands? Or would we be better off to have stayed round the same fires, facing inward to the same village green?


  1. I have often asked myself that same question. Were we really meant to do all this globe trotting, and culture 'hopping', and intermarrying.... And wouldn't life have been much less confusing, if I had just stayed put, in my agricultural part of the world? Married one of the boys I went to school with, continued in the Catholic Church I was born into..It would have been so much more simple and predictable.. but.. even as I write those words, a feeling of being 'choked', comes over me.
    I guess it all depends. My mother turned 91 this year, and has adapted to so many changes within her life. Like your husband's aunt, she lived in one place, married a boy from her town. Moved to another province.. had eight children..and has lived there for more than 60 years. She has traveled to many parts of the world on her children's insistence.. She is on face book and we talk by e-mail every day.
    and she has no real advice to offer anymore.. she used to be sure of everything.. but as life has moved on, and changes have come and continue to come.. she has less and less to say.
    the other day though, she passed on this gem of wisdom, 'I think everyone is doing the best that they can.'
    I am quite sure though that e-mail and face book and other such sites, help to keep a community going, if not a genetic community, one of similar focus. We need it, I think.

  2. I love my community of the "heart" - people with whom I am in touch all around the world.