Saturday, April 13, 2013

Distance blurs the memories!

Probably we all in this time of living far, far away from relatives have not stayed in touch with those who live across the continent or in other countries.  It's not that we don't think of them frequently. It's just that, for some reason, we don't pick up the phone and make that personal connection.

I have nieces and nephews all over the place - Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Illinois, Texas, Florida.  Some  I don't even know how to reach.  In other words, I don't have a phone number.  However, through their brothers or sisters it is rather easy to reconnect.  I always say to myself, "You need to do that".  I don't always and then live to regret it.

On Tuesday afternoon I received a phone call while walking through the jardin after lunch with friends.  It was from a woman who I have never met or talked to, ever. I didn't even know her last name! It was my cousin Nancy's daughter.  It took me a minute to even make the connection.

Nancy Foss Sedore and I grew up together.  We were only nine months apart in age.  She was an only child and had, as far as I can remember, no cousins on her father's side of the family.  So whenever possible, we were together.

She lived an unorthodox life far out in the country.  I remember that we had to cross a wooden bridge with planks that plopped as our car crossed.  And then get to their house in the woods.  Nancy went to a lab school all the way in the city of Chicago and also studied ballet.  If memory serves me correctly, she was a ballerina with the Chicago Ballet at some point.  It might be that she just trained with them.  It was a long time ago.  She didn't have girlfriends to do things with like we all did.

But, anytime we had a large gathering for holidays or birthdays, my aunt would bring my cousin.  We were her family.  Then we moved to Louisiana when I was 10 and my connections with her were only by mail or occasional phone conversations.  Very occasional.

In 1979 while on business in San Diego, I flew to Phoenix to visit her as at some point she had moved there to be near her mother after her divorce.  We spent a couple of days together.  Her children did not live with her.  She had become a Licensed Private Duty Nurse.  For all of her adult life she took care of elderly people.  Her life was her books, talk radio and her myriad of animals.

Every year like clockwork I would receive the first Christmas card of the year.  It was always from Nancy with lots of photos and telling about the books she had read and movies she had seen and about her current favorite sports team.

I received such a card this past December.  All about her daughter, and her two sons along with information on her pets etcetera.   Unfortunately I didn't save it.

The phone call was to tell me that my cousin had died on my birthday.  I had no idea that she was even ill.
I was staggered.  Sitting on the bench after the call, I was flooded with memories.  All joyful.  Then I was filled with regret that I had last seen her in 1979.  How could that be?

Since Tuesday I've reflected about the fact that Nancy started feeling ill in January.  Went to the Dr.  Was diagnosed with cancer of the stomach.  Was scheduled for surgery.  They started surgery and stopped.  Told her she had a couple of months left and she died the next week.  Somehow I can't wrap my head around it.

She was always the one on the latest new wave of food.  Only ate organic.  I doubt she ate meat.  Stayed in perfect shape.  How does that happen?  It defies logic.

My greatest regret is that Nancy went through the "journey to passing" alone and none of, including her children in faraway states, even knew she was ill.  So sad.

The above photo is of Nancy as a bridesmaid in my wedding in 1961.  In current photos, she had not aged a bit.  Amazingly beautiful

I'm sure many of you have distant relatives that you don't stay in touch with.  I'm sure as you read this you're thinking of that special aunt or uncle or cousin or even brother or sister.  Call them.  Make the time.


Shannon said...

I'm sorry to hear about your cousin Barbara. It is so easy to fall out of touch when you live so far apart. You are right, of course, we should make more of an effort.

Joan said...

I am sorry about your cousin. What a great tribute you wrote to her.

What connected to me was that your cousin had stomach cancer. So did my mom. Four months more she lived after she was diagnosed. They told us this is typical, that you don't know until it is too late.


Babs said...

Thanks Joan for commenting. I'm so sorry about your loss of your Mom. In my humble opinion, faster is better then slow and agonizing.

I'm the Mami said...

So sorry about the loss of your cousin, and that you werent able to speak with her again before she passed away. Cancer sucks big time, imagine the amount of suffering that wouldnt exist if cancer was wiped of the face of the earth?

Your cousin was a beautiful bridesmaid. So glad you got to speak with her daughter and make that connection.

Babs said...

Thanks Tricia - I did make that contact with her daughter and we are now "friends" on Facebook!
Hope I connect some day with her two sons......