Thursday, December 8, 2011

Aunt Maxine III~ The Second Cousin Drama

     Well, you have now read about who my Aunt Maxine was and how the Alzheimer's took over her life.  You know she died a little over one year ago too.  Outside of just sharing memories that I have of her, you would think that there probably wasn't much else to tell.  Think again.

     In the wee hours of the morning on Dec. 4, 2010, Aunt Maxine died. Her two grown daughters, referred to as M and L, from here on out, called my mom and dad to let them know of her passing and that they were on their way to Burlington (four hour drive) to see to the arrangements.  My parents were expecting M and L to eventually show up at the house to discuss those said arrangements; but they never showed up.  They never called. They never came by.  They left town.  And that was that. 

     Aunt Maxine's body was cremated the afternoon of her passing, and the girls were home that night, without so much as a phone call to make the rest of the family aware of what was going on.  The morning of the 5th, her obituary was in the newspaper...with survivors including two loving daughters. But, nobody else.  So what about a funeral for a beloved member of her church and community? Nothing.  No visitation, no funeral, no memorial service. NOTHING. In fact, her plot at the cemetery, next to her husband is EMPTY. She was to be buried, in her urn, between her husband and brother. That is also where my grandmother is buried and both of my parents will be.  However, the grave is empty. 

     My second cousins have now gone and sold her house, and done Lord knows what with all of her possessions.  The jewelry that we used to play "dress up" with that was promised to me is gone.  The old family pictures that are only cherished by me are gone.  All of the Christmas stuff that her and I decorated together with is gone.  My mother said that while Aunt Maxine was alive, M and L would ask her to go through pictures and figure out who they were.  However, she suffered from Alzheimer's and couldn't. SO...they threw the family pictures away and deemed them useless. 

     M and L didn't visit Aunt Max from May of 2009 on.  They stopped calling too. Why? Because she wouldn't remember if they came or called anyway.  And now, they have alienated the three remaining family members they have~ My mother, daddy, and myself.  They have not called since that morning. M recently returned a call to me regarding the family pictures and said that my mother took them; which is a lie.  And with that, I am done with them.

     There comes a point in life when you have to cut out the toxic relationships for your own sanity. I can't live my whole life wondering why they didn't give my Aunt a proper farewell. There are thousands of people that loved her around Burlington.  I loved her more than I ever loved anyone. I can't sit around and pine over the fact that I have nothing physical to remind me of her, except a card that I located recently with a handwritten note inside. I can't worry about all the lost family mementos  and photographs, because there is nothing I can do about it now.

     My cousins can't take away the years of memories that I have with Aunt Maxine. 

     In closing, I would encourage each of you to consider what I have shared with you in my last three posts, and take it to heart.  Don't stop spending time with your family members that suffer from Alzheimer's.  That is selfish of you!! Not to mention, there may be that one moment where they remember you, such as the one I don't want to miss that!  Somewhere deep down inside, they know who you are, and they love you. Who cares if they ask you 200 questions, all the same, in a row? And please, don't ever block your family from saying goodbye.  I will never experience proper closure. I keep reliving the pain and hurt from her death because it never seemed "final" to me.  I just want to be able to say goodbye. =* (

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Aunt Maxine Part II

 ***This was originally a facebook note that I wrote the day my Aunt Maxine passed away, one year ago today.  I wanted to share this with all of you again, before I present a new post on what has gone on in the last year concerning my Aunt, my cousins....I just felt that it was important to get these two posts on Bended Life, rather than leaving them hidden on facebook. Thank for reading. Remember, this was from one year ago, today.  There will be an update in the next couple of days ***

As we had a girls night IN at my mother in law's house last night watching Gone With the Wind, my great Aunt Maxine's health was going downhill fast.  As my household lay sleeping, she passed on to be with our amazing Lord God and is probably singing praises to Him right now! We all know how much she LOVED singing! Especially when praising God! What a remarkable angel God has brought home.
     What a remarkable woman my family will miss.  Last night, as ALL of the girls were watching Gone With the Wind, I couldn't help but be reminded of my Aunt Maxine. Of course, I had no idea that this would be her last night...but, I am so glad that I was passing on the love of Gone With the Wind to my little ones that she passed to me so many years ago.
     After my mom called me this morning to let me know, it was hard, because I was the quiet of my house. Michael was working some overtime and all of the children were sleeping. It was nice to have those few moments of weeping to myself. I was able to eventually get through to Michael at work and he was able to come home early. I let my mother in law know too...her reassurance that all will be OK and that I was free to do whatever I needed to do was good.
     One by one the children awoke to find their momma sobbing in bed holding onto Alena tightly.  It was so comforting to realize how much Aunt Maxine has touched their young lives already. Dylan and Amanda have their own stories to share. They love hearing about her life...because it was such a full and sometimes hilarious life. 
     My reflections of the day have been all centered around her. Pretty much everything that has happened today, has made me remember something else about her. Aunt Maxine's love of chocolate cam about because Michael bought me some chocolate comfort foods. My Christmas tree all lit up and my house decorated made me think of how much she LOVED decorating for Christmas.  A commercial for KFC made me remember how much Aunt Max LOVED her fried chicken! While I was out and about earlier, I remembered her horrible driving skills. When we passed by a furniture store in Herrin, I thought of all the dreamin' we used to do every year for my birthday! When I prayed today, I remembered how Aunt Max always wanted everyone to hold hands to pray...NO MATTER who was sitting next to you! So many memories....I know it is probably hard to imagine that I could possibly have so many wonderful memories of my great aunt! In most families...a great aunt seems distant. But, not in mine....I am a better person because of her and having her have a helping hand in my life.
     Of course, for the past several years her memory was fading worse and worse. Eventually, she forgot who I was. She no longer had the wonderful memories of me as I had of her. However, she would hug me so tightly and tell me she loved me...the past few visits, she did remember me for about five seconds. That was enough. I know that I was in her heart.  Alzheimer's is hard on the family, no doubt. BUT~ let me get on my soap box for a minute and unleash some hurt that I am feeling right now...if you have a family member that is suffering from Alzheimer's and you are NOT going to visit them any longer because you feel like the visit is pointless, I tell you it is NOT! I never stopped going to see her when I went to Iowa. I didn't care if she asked me where I lived or who I was 150 times in five minutes! She was my aunt that I loved...and that didn't stop just because she didn't know who I was.
     I love my dear Aunt Maxine...and although right now I am hurting....I know that she is SO happy up there!

Thank you for reading and letting me share my love for her with all of you!