My aunt died during Lent. Our family relationships in English are vague. My dad’s brother’s wife (the aunt to whom I refer) has the same relational title as my mother’s sister. And so she should–she has been my aunt as long as I have been alive–but it becomes peculiar when people try to determine the relationship. “Was she your mother’s sister?” “No she was my dad’s brother’s wife, my cousins’ mother.”
Because I grew up a nomad, their home in Indiana was one of the stable places in my life, next only to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house in Iowa. When we visited, we knew what we would find. Mostly, I was fascinated with my boy cousin’s bedroom in the basement, decorated with his beer can collection.
I shared my closest-in-age cousin’s room when we were children and teenagers and 30-something (when Computerguy visited and met them during Spring Break while I was still in Indiana. He slept in the basement.)
Since they moved to Arizona full time, we have seen them often. Almost any time we visit my parents, we also see my aunt and uncle. On the family tree, we connect I suppose through my cousins, but what does that really mean?
On Ash Wednesday I wondered about my cousin getting ashes on her birthday, and doing so when her mother was critically ill in the hospital halfway across the country. Her older sister’s birthday is the day the family has chosen for the memorial service. That day is also my dad’s birthday, and my son’s. My uncle’s birthday is Easter 2 this year, the week before the memorial. The third cousin’s birthday is Mother’s Day week (as is mine, 2 days apart). So. They may have quiet birthdays this year. Can they be significant birthdays? Will it add a depth to the quality of the day to be thinking of their mother, the maker of birthdays, or will it just be too sad. I suppose that will depend on the person, the context, what is going on around them.
We are a resurrection people, and we will celebrate Easter in the midst of it all. He is risen! (almost and always.)
For the boy child, we will celebrate quietly with family on his birthday and have his party the next weekend.
So. Today is Maundy Thursday, another friend’s birthday. That got me thinking about birthdays. Happy birthday, friend! Come have dinner with us. Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday next week. Pick a day (and a menu if you like or I’ll make something up).