Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A Voice From The Past

The phone rang yesterday afternoon. When I picked it up, a woman's voice asked, "Do you know who this is?" I paused for a moment and she continued, "Don't you know who this is?" Hearing the combination of voice and tone, I quickly replied, "Evelyn."

Evelyn is my last surviving aunt; my mother's youngest sister. She said that she is now 91½ years old. I had not talked to her in 13 years. She said that she was talking to my sister and asked why I was mad at her and never called. My sister told her that I was convinced she was mad at me. Evelyn asked me why I felt that way. I recalled for her in great detail the last phone conversation we had in the late spring of 1994. She has no recollection of the conversation and is convinced it never took place. I remember it as if it had been just last week.

We talked for a while. She asked about my children and I filled her in on their accomplishments in life. She gave me great, wonderful details about her grandchildren. We shared some stories and by the end of the call we were friends again. That is the way it should be!

Family is too important to let old disagreements get in the way of the common memories of good times and loved ones now gone. Aunt Evelyn also is my godmother. I wonder if she thought that was an awesome responsibility when she accepted the role. I was born when she was just 21 years old. I always liked her. She was a bit brash and sassy! She always spoke her mind. Where my mother was a quiet and refined "lady," Evelyn made sure that everyone knew exactly what she thought. In those days long ago I thought that was refreshing in my vibrant young aunt.

I am not sure when I last saw her. It may have been at my mother's funeral in Detroit in January, 1984, at that time the coldest day ever recorded in the local area. At the cemetery, as everyone was leaving after a necessarily brief graveside service, Evelyn, who had come from her winter home in Florida, stood at the grave after others had left, shouting at my mother for being so inconsiderate to be buried on a day when temperatures were well below 0°F (not including the windchill). Oh, Aunt Evelyn loved her oldest sister and one way she showed her own grief (as well as the degree to which her own bones were frozen that day) was to give mom a piece of her mind. That was vintage Evelyn.

Now that our "feud" is over, I feel a bit more at peace. That which seemed so hurtful 13 years ago is not very important today. Thank you for calling me Evelyn. You are the last surviving family member from your generation and you will hear more from me in the future.


Charles Gramlich said...

I'm so glad that got cleared up. You're exactly right about family. How easily we let time slide by without connecting, or reconnecting. I think I'll call some of my family tonight.

Shauna Roberts said...

I had a college friend contact me recently to apologize for something she did 30 years ago and for not answering my letters since. She had been feeling guilty all these years and I had put it behind me a long time ago. The apology led to an exchange of emails and then to her visiting me when she was in California recently. It's wonderful to get old hurts out of the way.