Saturday, April 24, 2010


"It's him," I whisper as I cup my hand over the phone before handing it to dearest one.

That's the first thing I remember about that day 10 years ago. One of our nephews was supposed to come over the night before to borrow a pickup truck. We had been looking forward to his visit as he was one of our favourites out of over 3 dozen nieces and nephews. He never showed and we'd gone to bed disappointed. Early the next morning the phone rang and when I answered it I thought it was him. It wasn't. It was his brother phoning to tell us that the night before a friend and his brother had taken one last flight in their ultra light plane and hadn't returned. No amount of searching had found them. They had called the appropriate people sometime after midnight and before too long we heard the roar of an air force search plane overhead.
It took them very little time to find the wreckage. There were no survivors.

Just two days before we had been together for a family gathering and I watched this particular nephew as he played with someone's baby. I noticed the ease of his play and his unselfconsciousness of being in the moment with that baby as if there weren't 30 people sitting around visiting as he laid on the floor playing. Before we'd left that night he and dearest one talked about going up in the plane together soon.

The passage of time is a funny thing. On one hand one can hardly believe it's been that long. And on the other one remembers that day as if it was yesterday.

I just remembered that we'd learned of my granny's suicide at age 90, three years to the day we learned of this young nephew's death. I rarely remember to remember her on this day but I rarely forget him.

I missed celebrating my AA birthday last month with my home group because I was away so today is the day for cake, cards and medallions. My head has been way too busy with what I might say at the meeting so I've been praying to let that go. I am amazed and appalled at how much my ego wants to run the show. Sometimes I want to beat it over the head and say, Will you shut the fuck up already! Instead I pray for God to direct my thoughts. I laid in bed this morning and prayed the third step prayer before I got up. I've been doing that lately to help me get my bearings before the chatter in my head has a chance to start up.

Later on today we will help oldest son celebrate his birthday. While he was growing up the death of his cousin and his great grandma overshadowed his celebration on two separate occasions. I look forward to celebrating with him and his wife and their friends.

I refused to keep my grandma's choice of suicide a secret although I had to pry out of my mom how my grandma died. After I found out I had several conversations with one of my sisters that morning and she was grateful grandma's death had been peaceful in her sleep. Before the morning was over I phoned my mom and said I am not keeping this a secret. My sister wishes I hadn't told her the truth. I hate secrets. I grew up in a family where my mom told me to my face that what went on in our house stayed in our house. After my grandma died I met her brother for the first time since childhood. Every time he would tell me he was so grateful she had died in her sleep I gritted my teeth a little.

I don't know why this topic is coming up in my writing lately. I suspect I am still pissed at my grandma for ending her life that way. It just popped into my head that I could pray to have some compassion for her. That never occured to me before. If you knew her life story you would most likely have compassion for her in a heartbeat.

My dad, who will be 80 this summer, often says that getting old and having health problems and the like sure beats the alternative. Any day above ground is a good one is a phrase he heartily agrees with. Wish my grandma had thought that way.


Lisa said...

mmm... this hits deeply this morning, as I am currently living with my own Grandma, and caught in the midst of a crazy family situation that is masked in silence and secrets. And I'm walking a crazy balancing act of being respectful of what others choose to share, and fighting the crazy, dominating overwhelming control of the secrets, of seeking to break that silence and it's power.

pray for compassion... it's a good thought, and one I think I need to do as well... her story is one that would draw compassion, just one that is hard for me to dredge compassion, as her choices affect my current living situation.

thanks for this... it was a needed read for my heart this morning.

daisymarie said...

In my family a great aunt committed suicide. I learned about this while doing a family tree project while studying for my counseling degree. Several years after that my mom and I were going through a box of old family pictures and she came upon Aunt Elaine's picture and she just started to cry. It was such a sweet time of sharing--one of the most vulnerable times I've spent with my mom.

Family dynamics and dysfunction, where would we be without them?

Mia M. said...

i'm sorry to read of your loss of nephew and grandmother. your mention of calling your mother to say you would not keep your grandmother's suicide a secret reminded me of a similar action i took many years ago with my own family on a different kind of secret. i felt ashamed about the call i made to this family member for years and wished i'd kept my mouth shut. that feeling vanished when i read this post. thanks for sharing.