Last week I attended what I am sure will be the start of too many funerals this year. As I have mentioned in the past, my mother and father both turn 75 this year, which means my mom’s and dad’s aunts, uncles, cousins, bothers, sisters are at that age when a simple cold can turn into a life-and-death situation.
My mother’s sister, Nancy, who has been fighting a war against cancer for more than 10 years and was reportedly cancer free for the last two years, was diagnosed again on Friday with a form of cancer. She has been having experimental treatment in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, something to strengthen her immune system.
Keep in mind our families have always been close. My mother has four sisters (Ann, Nancy, Mary Jean and Bonnie) and a brother (Paul). There are 18 grandkids and when I was growing up all of us – yes, every single grandkid – spent a week with the grandparents in Quincy, Wash., yes, the same week! Today, I cannot imagine why my grandparents would do that. My mom’s youngest sister Bonnie would also spend the week there helping corral the kids. We played whiffle baseball from daylight to dark across the street in the city park; we slept in a big military-type tent in the backyard. And we must have gone through gallons of PB&J for sandwiches.
Nancy and her husband Ray live 20 miles from my parents, Mary Jean and her husband Dick about 12 miles away and Bonnie lives in Hermiston, Ore., about a three-hour drive. Anne lives in California and Paul lives in Georgia. Those four sisters who have lived close to each other for more than 70 years are nearly inseparable. Every Sunday evening they all meet at The Sizzler for dinner. The husbands have things in common that keep them occupied while the sisters chat about everything, but mostly about what their kids are doing, according to my dad.
As my sister and I drove to the Marcum funeral Friday we talked about the coming year and our aunts, uncles, great-aunts and great-uncles who in all likelihood will not make it through the year. The reality really hit us hard as we visited with family, some of whom we had not seen in several years. Watching a family member get up and talk about his dad and what he had meant to him and his siblings was especially hard, knowing the reality is that I’ll be doing the same thing much too soon.