She's the only matriarch left in my family -- my mother and grandmother now gone - one to suicide, the other old-age. She's not that old -- barely 65 -- but 12 years younger than my mother would have been.
She was never very nice. My mother married young at 16 and my sister came along and stole her thunder at too young an age. I don't think she ever forgave my mother or my sister for the upstaging. It's always been reflected in the way she treated and interacted with us.
She clearly did not like children at all. We were in the way and she swatted us away like flies. She was cranky with our questions and our expectations for attention. She clearly didn't have time for us.
She was audacious in her twenties -- moving to San Francisco, becoming a dental hygienist, buying a porsche, skiing the sierras. Then she married. Why she chose the man she chose is beyond me. She married a crass, east-coast, braggart who although highly intelligent was a bombastic, self-centered ass. Their relationship declined over the years into bouts of negativity, mutual neglect and sheer hatred for one another. Still married, they are long separated living in different states and with little tying them together but their two daughters, an L.A. ocean view lot, and joint health insurance.
They have the two girls together -- one highly intelligent, opinionated and stubborn just like her father, and the other a quiet, mild-mannered and soft-underbellied girl who has barely dated or shared an opinion in her 30 years.
After our mother's and grandmother's death, my sister and I became somewhat estranged from our Aunt. She pulled some crappy things at our Grandma's death -- like removing everything of value from her apartment, and then telling us we could take what we'd like after she'd already pillaged the place of all value. I didn't really care; I'm not really into stuff that much. If she needed to have THINGS so much - good riddance. My sister took it less lightly. Anyway, that was the beginning of the end of our relationship which has pretty much degraded to name only. We don't even exchange Christmas cards. There's no ill will. There's just no good OR bad will either. There's just no will at all!
Then the Cancer came. I didn't know about it until it was practically over and in remission. I didn't know what to feel to be honest, other than regret that people allow insignificant things to come between them. I sent flowers, made a phone call and shared my concern over her plight. She said she was doing fine now except for that knee replacement she had to get soon....
I just found out last week that she is dying of her breast cancer. She announced to everyone at Thanksgiving that she has 2 to 4 years to live at best with maintenance chemo. I guess she has a time stamp expiration because I know docs don't like to "date" things if they don't have too. But she has tumors through-out her body where the cancer has spread, and her prognosis doesn't look good. She could be fighting, but she has given up - totally. She looks, acts and moves like an 80 year old woman, when she is only 65 and would rather be pitied and petted over, than fight hard for her life like so many others do.
I am at a loss right now as to know what to say, think or feel. I care for her girls because she has become so dependent on them that they are truly dysfunctional in many ways. I fear for them as they march forward at a young age without a Mother to participate in their lives even if she was a piece of work.
I know I should feel extremely sad about any valuable life coming to a close too soon, but like in the play, A Chorus Line --"I reached down to the bottom of my soul -- and I felt nothing." I am waiting to feel sadness, angst and regret for where our relationship fell and where it will now never go. I am waiting to feel empathy and caring because it is usually who I am. But, I feel nothing - and I feel horrible and guilty because I feel nothing. God forgive me and help me find a place of forgiveness and love.