2/08/2008

I know I would feel honoured if someone went commando at my funeral...

My great-uncle Norm was an alcoholic, which really isn't all that surprising because most everyone in my family is an alcoholic. He was the identical twin brother of my paternal grandfather and, in the years that followed the death of my grandparents, we spent an increased amount of time together.
Sometimes I feel like I used him.
He was so much like my grandfather.
His smile. His laugh. The way he smelled.
I don't think I appreciated him enough for who he was. For months he functioned as a surrogate. He was a substitute, and I used him as a security blanket.
They were such different people, but if I squinted my eyes just a little I could pretend that I had gone back in time and life was just a little easier to bear.
At Thanksgiving, three years ago, he'd made a comment I'd deemed overly melodramatic. He professed his desire to see me one last time before he was "pushing up daisies." I'd laughed then and assured him he would. I'd hugged him, in that very same hallway where I'd last hugged his brother, and made him a promise: "You will see me again." What else was I supposed to say?
A week later his health began to fail. I drove back to Burlington from North Bay, showered, and got ready to accompany my parents on a trip to the hospital with the intention of saying goodbye. I was tying my shoelace when I realized that I couldn't do it. I couldn't say goodbye to him; I didn't know how. And so I broke my promise and, even though my parents assured me that he hadn't been lucid and it was ultimately for the best, I have had a guilty conscience ever since.
Later, days after his death, family members would recount his final days. "He had a picture of Jim sitting on the shelf across from his bed. The hospital staff did not know that he had been a twin. Instead, they'd assumed he was just an eccentric, slightly vain, old man."
I did not cry at his funeral. In fact, I laughed. I'd run out of underwear the day before and had been forced to attend the function commando. That, paired with the fact that my skirt turned out to be much shorter than I'd remembered it being, had lead me to seek out the assistance of my mother to ensure that I did not show an entire church full of mourners my girlie bits.
"Do not worry Megan," my father had said, "I think Norm would have felt honoured."

1 comment:

Joseph said...

For such a touching but admittadly depressing post, I'm happy that you ended it by talking about your girlie bits being shown off in a skimpy outfit. Nothing like a boner to take your mind off grief!