Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Miss Me

The photo below shows my Aunt Marion, my father, and my mother. Mom's pregnant with me.

gone but never forgotten
 
My aunt died this week. For a long time, she was the only other "Marion with an O" I knew. 

At a job in Arkansas where I worked between university degrees, one of my coworkers said "Oh, I have an uncle who spells it that way." She paused. "He wears overalls without a shirt and goes by Scooter."

My grandmother named me "Marion" after her favourite older sister, the name she'd also given my aunt, her youngest daughter. My parents wanted to honour my grandmother but didn't want to name me "Agnes," so they asked Gran to choose. Though Agnes is a perfectly lovely name, I'm grateful.

As I said on Facebook, Aunt Marion got a degree in political science in the 1940s. She married a farmer, and she spent her days cooking for him and the field hands. She told me once she made a pie every single day for their noon meal. My three cousins thrived among tractors and chores and feral kittens in the barn.

When my uncle sickened, they moved to "town," a tiny village of a few hundred souls. When he died, she lent her no-nonsense leadership to her community and her church.  


She and my father genuinely liked each other--a gift not always bestowed upon siblings. My mother really liked her, too, in part (I suspect) because she knew Aunt Marion was also no pushover.  

So yes, I'm sad. And I'm angry, because her death came after an infection with SARS-CoV-2. Otherwise, she was adjusting fine to life in an assisted living centre, where meals were provided regularly and people were around to help her (though she, typically, insisted she didn't need it). 

So miss me with your questions and platitudes about "a good long life," "feisty till the end," "was it unexpected," "out of pain/suffering/misery." 

Who are you to gauge the proper length of a life of service and happiness, its feisty qualities, or the degree of expectation of its end? 

Whose pain/suffering/misery are you talking about ending? Yours? Because her death is painful, too. 

And most of all: miss me with your "was it WITH or FROM Covid?"

Yes, we all die. But her death didn't have to happen this way. Neither did nearly 1 million OTHER deaths, SO FAR, in the US; more than 37,000 deaths in Canada.

We failed our seniors. We're failing people who have been infected and experience persistent life-altering deficits, people who are immunocompromised for many reasons, people who are fragile. 

We've also failed the children who never grew up because they died of Covid, or they were shot in schools or parks, or they exist as trans people in the US; because they were sent to US and Canadian residential schools where those in charge didn't value them; because they live in the Ukraine and are being killed by bombs in the streets and hospitals. 

We're losing so many people whose existence brings joy and whose stories are important. 

So, miss me with those distinctions that aren't really differences. 

It's far more important to miss the people we've lost.