My maternal aunt and her husband were in the Black Hills for a wedding at Custer State Game Lodge this past weekend. They had been thinking they would visit Taciturn and me at our house up the canyon since 2002 when we first bought this place, and seized upon this wedding as the chance to see us. The young woman getting married is very involved in their church in a south MN town.
I had never known this aunt and uncle well. She and my mother never have gotten along well, partially due to my mom's perception that Aunt L conducted herself as a bossy big sister but more importantly they are fundamentally different people. Aunt L was always a striver, one who was not a blamer but if things did not go her way, she just found another way to accomplish what she wished. My mom would just quit trying, and blame others for her woes. My mother has been rebellious all of her life and this aunt never was. This aunt and uncle are very involved in a mainline Protestant church and as readers of this blog know, my mother won't even be caught dead in a church--she wants her funeral out of a funeral home. On and on. We never visited them, and they came to our house probably four times. I not only did not know my aunt and uncle, I did not know my cousins at all.
But, they attended T's and my wedding in 1998 for which they had to drive several hundred miles. I appreciated the effort that took, as well as the poem Aunt L wrote on the card that went with the gift. They obviously went to some trouble and care to find the perfect poem. I remember being disappointed that my own mother could not be bothered to do the two things I had asked her to do for that wedding, and here my barely known aunt went to all that effort for me.
After this weekend, I wish we had started visiting seven years ago! We had a wonderful visit. They are in their late 70's, but travel all over the US, work as caterers, and Uncle is a writer. His training was as a journalist and he worked in publishing for years. In fact, he belongs to a group called the Wordos which seeks to enhance written communication by presenting the rules of grammar. They were intensely interesting and we conversed far into the night both nights they were here.
Uncle never had been to Mt Rushmore so we drove down Friday afternoon. He was stunned by its majesty. He said over and over that seeing it in photos over the years had been nice, but did not compare to actually standing at its base and viewing it.
We took Uncle to Rushmore just in time. So vigorous during this visit, he just was diagnosed with a cancer that will kill him probably within the year. Aunt L also has been treated for breast cancer. These two are not like my parents who dwell on their problems and focus on what they can't do. Aunt L and Uncle wish to live while they are alive. These two have been through the worst parents can go through, the death of a child (one of my cousins died six years ago), now these cancers, and they are pragmatic about it.
They plan to visit my parents in a couple of weeks. Since Aunt L and my mother are the only ones left of five sisters, Aunt L plans to continue to see Mom while she can as it is the right thing to do. I do not get the impression that she enjoys those visits, which I understand and is an entirely different post! Aunt L was not surprised to hear of Mom's condition at all. She was sad, but not surprised.
In the meantime, I still have no idea of when Mom's amputation will be. Granddaughter's ballet recital, which I never miss, will be on June 20th. I'm sure the surgery will take place before then so I'll head to MO next week or the following week. My brother said he will try to get some answers this week. I'll keep my aunt posted.