Silent deaths

After I moved to a nursing home, my mother's family no longer contacted me about family member illnesses or deaths. My mom's younger brother called me occasionally, and I wrote to him. But, when his health declined almost 10 years ago, there was no one to take his place and keep me up on the news about my mom's family.

In October 2014 my sister e-mailed that while checking the family tree on a genealogical website, she found the obituary of our mother's youngest sister, Essie. I clicked on the link and read the obituary. Essie was 90 years old and died in a nursing home. When I was unable to leave comments on the funeral home's website, I wondered why. I reread Essie's obituary and discovered she had died the previous March.

Reading the obituary made me feel strange. When I was growing up we visited my mother's family, including Essie in Pennsylvania once a year or more. But I had not seen Aunt Essie since 1979. She came to Ohio to assist my mom a few years after her breast cancer became advanced. Our family was struggling and Essie came to help us out. She stayed for a while but as my mom and I both thought–the situation was too much for her. She ended up leaving us quickly.

Essie's obituary said she was survived by her only sister, Marianna, who was then 95. I wondered where Marianna was living and if she was in a nursing home. I googled her name, but found nothing.

In late 2015, my sister e-mailed that a priest who taught us in high school had passed at 85. That reminded me of teachers and older relatives who influenced my life. I googled my Aunt Marianna's name and, not surprisingly, her obituary came up. She died Sept. 30 at the age of 97.

The obituary did not say where Aunt Marianna lived when she died. It thankfully gave some information from her younger years. Two of my cousins who lived nearby had looked in on my aunts during their later years.

My sister and I may not have been able to attend these funerals. But, we would have appreciated a call when they passed, which would have allowed us to chat with a cousin, say a prayer or psalm and share fond memories of how those aunts affected our lives.


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