My aunt died and was buried the week of my 12th birthday. My mom’s oldest sister.
My parents didn’t want to mess with my day and moved her burial so it wouldn’t fall on my day.
Give me some kind of normalcy.
That was always something I remembered, something I never wanted to forget. I vaguely recall being at the church, her coffin and the stairs. Not much more.
Behind the scenes I can remember the jest of, but I never really understood the harshness of reality in relation to life until now.
My aunt’s son stole the only money his mother had set aside for when she passed and he refused to pay for her funeral costs.
Yep. That happened.
Her son’s wife said awful things about my aunt and he just followed along, fueled the dumpster fire, and still came out smelling like roses.
My aunt didn’t deserve that.
My mother was embarassed when she walked into the funeral home. Her nephew stiffed them on payment and I don’t blame her for feeling every kind of way that she felt.
For more than 20 years, my mother has kept the secret that she and my father pulled together all the money they had to pay for her sister’s funeral.
The baby of the family. The baby of 10.
The one that should have been the last one to have to worry about these things. The one with two kids of her own, a family of her own, and the one who was left with the role of fixer.
Without pulling the family into the mess her nephew made, my mother and father paid to lay my aunt to rest with the dignity she desevered.
My mom never planned for this story to be told for one reason or another, but it resurfaced for me when my uncle, her brother passed, and again recently.
We ran into the issue again. No one was paying for his funeral. We drove more than an hour, my mom paid cash and we left it at that.
Interestingly enough, my cousin, the baby cousin from my group of cousins, stepped up and offered to pay for the funeral as well, and that’s what the family believes till this day. He has kids of his own, a family of his own.
But again, something like that shouldn’t fall on the babies of the family.
I love my mama.
Till this day, she has allowed others to take credit for all she’s done. She’s allowed herself to be the villain in the stories of many, and like all of us, probably could have handled other things better than she did, allowing too many people to mess with her vibe.
We’re not perfect. None of us are. We are given tools throughout our lives to fill the toolbox of life.
Some boxes are more like bags, kind of tiny and can hold a wrench and screwdriver, a hammer and measuring tape. Other boxes are so elaborate that they need a whole garage or shop just to fit them. Every tool you could think of for every kind of job is in there.
And sometimes there’s tools you never knew you had, tools that are made for only one kind of job, tools that can work with all kind of tasks, tools that bust after a single use, tools that last forever.
We can often forget to reach into the toolbox, clean and organize our tools, freshen things up with new tools and throw out what doesn’t work for us anymore.
I’ve held onto a tool because it’s just always been there, why mess with something that isn’t broken? Screwdriver vs a drill thought process can go into these moments. Some things just don’t need all that power behind it and some do.
But we forget, not every one takes the time to get to know the tools they have or even chooses to use the right tools for the right things. That takes practice. That requires effort. That needs you to put on your big people panties and do the work.
Find your tools. Fill your toolbox. Use what you’ve got and keep expanding. Be understanding, but don’t set fire to yourself in all your kindness to others.
Now, the story about my mother and her siblings. I think we often forget the story isn’t always our own. Let me see if I can say that in a better way because in no way should anyone take from your story. It is yours. You feel your feelings and respond in a healthy way, and if you’re not you need to get yourself to work so you can.
But I when I say the story isn’t always our own I mean it’s not JUST yours. There are many people involved in any story, any life event.
As I’ve said in previous posts, people can make something so big to you so small to them. Two people who love you see your struggle in differently, one leaves and one stays. People watch your humiliation as your husband kicks you out weeks before a major surgery and jumps into another woman’s bed, some choose his side.
The people that stayed. The people that see the big just as big. Those people were along for that ride. They were and are affected by our lives. Our big moments. Our darkest times.
So as I feel for my mother in all that she’s dealt with and will be the ear she needs to listen and shoulder she needs to lean on, I realized I never dealt with how that altered me and my perception of family and money. It was another brick of my foundation.
When some people blame their parents for their childhood, they aren’t digging deep enough into their own patterns to know it was a whole big bowl of wax from many candles that brought us to where we are today.
It took 30+ years to understand that and be grateful. I’m grateful I have all of those experiences to walk through now to make a better future from.
I get to sit with this experience and heal from it in the healthiest way I know how because I’m ready for the work. Because I’ve got some new tools. Will I always be done with this? Probably not. I may find more tools along the way that can heal another part of this I didn’t want to know was there before.
Many candles. Many layers of wax. All coming together for a new kind of burn from a new kind of candle.
What kind of tools are you working with?