Today I went to my Aunt Lola’s funeral. After being in the hospital for a while she died at the age of 59. I didn’t know much about her except that she had 7 kids (5 of which, I spent some time with as a child) and was the type of person who would always say how she felt no matter what you thought about it.
Despite the fact that she lived over 100 miles from us, her and my mom never let that destroy their relationship. I would always remember her and my mom talking to one another for hours at a time or our families visiting each other as kids and spending time together. However, as I got older and began to do my own things, the times I would see her or hear her on the phone weren’t always as pleasant as I remembered as a child.
In my mind, she seemed bitter and depressed all the time. I didn’t think she liked me and on one occasion she showed her unhappiness in my husband and some of the choices I had made growing up. For that reason, I stayed my distance from her. I didn’t have any hate in my heart for her but I felt that we were two different people and could not communicate or get along because of those differences. I know now that a lot of that was attributed to the fact that my mom and I were also not very close as I grew up and sometimes when they got together, it would be to discuss me or my brother in a not-so-good light.
From what my mom told me, a few of her children and other close family members shared that same view of her and chose to stay their distance as well. However, during the funeral all of the good things about Aunt Lola came out and her children and close family members were forced to acknowledge and remember those things. As I listened to them, I felt disappointed in myself that I had wasted time and not gotten to really know her like I could have. The things that I learned in those few hours of her funeral showed me that, I had been wrong, we were very similar in our mindset and life paths. In those few hours, I gained the knowledge that what I gauged as dislike towards me and my choices in life were probably dislike towards her own, as well.
I realized that her children and other close family members would probably feel the pang of disappointment that I felt but ten times worse. Instead of being able to understand her and show her their love, some of them took the “back away” stance like me or even worse completely expressed their anger for her. Some of them had never got a chance to show her how much she meant to them and, in way, never will. From what my mother told me of their relationship, that was all Aunt Lola wanted from them and I’m sure they knew.
Someone at the funeral said that funerals are a blessing to the ones who choose to come because they see the wrongs and good things about someone else and they learn how they can use the time they have left to make theirs better. I agree wholeheartedly with that comment and learned that it really is true that you never know when it will be someone’s last day and it’s important to make those moments before count. People know that and hear that all the time but we let pettiness and bitterness keep us from actually showing it.
So, from me to you, I wanted to share to those that are reading this that if you haven’t showed your appreciation for someone in your family or one of your close friends, now is the time to do it. Anyone can imagine that hurt and pain felt of losing a loved one but you definitely don’t want to add the burden of having to ask yourself, “Is it too late to say goodbye?”