The Hunter’s mom died a few days after his birthday. My wish was granted for her not to die on his birthday. I just spent an intensive 24 hours with his family and gained a lot of interesting insight into his familial dynamics. I talked to the Hunter about some of it last night as we drove home, and he is now digesting my thoughts.
Families are interesting communities and the Hunter’s is no different from most. The Hunter was the youngest — the youngest cousin, the youngest in his family (his sister is 7 years older). He was, like I said previously, that active, annoying little brother who was always into everything, tagging along and getting into trouble. That’s his role in the family and even now, at age 50, that’s how the family treats him. He reacts that way too sometimes because he’s playing his role. More about that later in this post…
I told the Hunter that his sister’s eulogy was lovely — it was, but it represented parts of his mother that he didn’t always see. He agreed. I told him that I am sure he is full of conflict because he saw a side of his mother others didn’t. I asked him if perhaps his mom beat him so much because he is the spitting image of his dad? That gave him pause and he’s thinking about it.
The reason I said that was during the waiting, night after night, for his mom to pass, his sister told him quite a revelation. Apparently his dad was quite the player (apple didn’t fall far from the tree) and had several women friends that would pay for his company. One of his dad’s many jobs was as a maitre d’ at a nice restaurant and a couple of women apparently enjoyed his companionship outside of the dining experience. These relationships endured for many years and his mother was aware of them. His sister remembered their most epic fight was over a bundle of cash his dad had stashed away and his mother spotted it. So his dad was a gambler, womanizing, handsome guy while his mom was the June Cleaver of the neighborhood — cooking great memorable meals, planning all the family get-togethers, sewing amazing outfits (that she later sold). I could see where there could be some tension….
I ended up being the odd woman out on this family occasion which wasn’t a big deal. I knew several of them and was able to have some great chats, but oftentimes I simply sat and observed with a pleasant expression on my face. The younger generation (Nino and his cousins) found me to be hip and cool. The older set found me polite and warm. I stuffed my face with great food.
When his cousin sat beside me to tell me that the Hunter’s mom, who passed due to complications of advanced Alzheimer’s, was waiting for the Hunter to say good-bye, I swallowed my cynical thoughts and mildly said, “really? Why do you say that?” She told me that she knew due to her 5-years of home health experience and that she was clearly right because his mom passed away 12 hours later. I, of course, am a bit too realistic to think that her brain was still connected to her soul at that point. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease and I think his mom had been gone a long, long time.
I also saw, but didn’t speak to, Nino’s mom — the Hunter’s baby momma aka common law wife. She was not what I was expecting. The Hunter and Nino took care of her and I later told the Hunter it was nice that she showed up to pay her respects and support her son without becoming a problem. She stayed 20 minutes, said her hellos, made one mildly snarky comment and left. Perfect.
I scored major brownie points with the Hunter’s sister. She didn’t include him in the service and at the last minute came to me asking if the Hunter wanted to speak. She had asked him and he had said he would put something together with me, but he never told me. I suggested that perhaps he could thank everyone for their support and love. She loved it, I arranged it with the Hunter and he said a beautiful thank you — especially to his sister for all her love and care for their mom. It was perfect.
I also saw a family that is full of love. Two children (8 and 4) dropped by and everyone doted on them. There were stories of gatherings, parties, dinners that were wonderful. After all the viewings, service and burial, the closest family (including us) went out to a nice dinner that was full of laughter and memories. I went home with a very full belly and pleasant thoughts.
I don’t know if his family can change their approach to the Hunter and if he can change his reactions to them. I can see where old habit die hard, but perhaps it might be worth another attempt. She’s gone and his dad will soon follow because he’s 86 with dementia. It sucks getting old….