The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

October 18, 2007


I mean dead people who at one point in my life were very alive to me, and who just vanished, expired, went on to the next life...

Wherever they went, in our physical, limited dimension realm, they ceased to exist.

I could not tease them, hug them, admire them, hate them, love them, whatever them any more, in the form in which they had existed. They died. And I continued to live, in this form.

And this has happened to us all.

And a lot of these people almost disappear from our consciousness, save for occupying some tiny space in our tiny brains, rarely remembered but never forgotten.

These names will mean nothing to you, but I'm talking about:

Lee Rowson (childhood buddy struck by lightning, 1975 or so). Workmate Anna Geddes (breast cancer, 2003). Peter Berendse (former girlfriend's brother, motorcycle accident, 1973).

Ron Bonin (brother's best buddy, HIV-AIDS, 1980). Julia Young (beautiful college mate, breast cancer). Firnie Coppens (best friend's dad, heart attack, May 29, 1980). Georgiana Fisette (grandmother, old age).



I'm also, though, talking about people who didn't die physically, but who disappeared from our lives, never to be seen again, but still worth remembering...or impossible to forget.

People who still resonate with us...the first girlfriend/boyfriend, the teacher of terror, the marvellous mentor.

The girl you connected with on your big trip and never saw again, the guy you met in a bar and never heard from again.

People you find yourself, for no reason or for every reason, asking: "I wonder what ever happened to them?"

People who touched you, who had some impact, good or bad, who faded away...but not completely.

People like:

Sylvie Cowlie (high school hottie). Joanne Van der Graf (first "encounter"). Paulette Hauser (best high school female friend). Pat Keelan (Nerdy college guy). Gerry Bolin (high school teacher).


There's no real point to this, except to say that I think about all these people and many more from time to time, and I assume others think of people they crossed paths with, in a big or small way.

And I like that I do.

Life isn't all about looking forward and where you're going, I believe.

It's about also looking back, and still having a sense of wonder about what went before and knowing what happened then set the direction for the path you're on now.

And part of that wonder has to be about the people that have come before...and sometimes are now gone. But not forgotten.


  1. This post made me sit back and think. I was reminded of all those who had touched my life in one way or other. A few are gone forever. Biggest setback was when I lost my dad. Even though it is 5+ years, the void is not filled as yet.

    I agree, life too is to learn from the past, mistakes or otherwise. To remember those who made a difference to our lives, in one way or other. Any bad experience too teaches us. Coming back to those people who were in my periphery at one time or the other for whatsoever reason, I am a better person for knowing them, knowing about them.

    Do you think I should write poetry for them?!


  2. By the time I was 25 I had lost an infant brother, my father, three of my grandparents, and several school chums.

    In the past year I have been to two funerals for high school friends who are now entering their 50s.

    I am keenly aware of my own mortality and how my own family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances that I have accumulated throughout my lifetime will remember me.

    I remember most of my old friends as they were at their best and somehow largely ignore their stupid mistakes and transgressions. I didn't just decide to do this it just sort of happened. I hope that others will offer me the same leniency.

    We need to think about this from time to time because Life is so annoyingly unpredictable. It is impossible to live life to the fullest every single day but we do need to make it as tolerable as possible for those around you who have chosen to share it with you.

  3. Gautami:

    Yeah, I dunno if the void for your dad can ever really be filled, because children love their dads like they love no one else...

    Yes, I think you should write poetry about them, sure!


    People always remember the best things about people they care about, that touched their hearts warmly.

    Being a very warm individual yourself, I'm sure people will grant you that leniency you seek.

    You're bang on about needing to remember these things and these people because life IS so unpredictable.

    Being able to hang on to the past can be a non-productive thing, but the point is it's happened, we know it's happened that way, it's not going to change.

    In a world of constant change when we need to continue walking forward on an unknown path, there's nothing wrong with back-tracking and remembering what and who went before...

    Which is invariably part of what makes us who we are now.

  4. Wow, you're in a reflective mood. Very true, who we are is for a large part built up by social interactions, so many people have crossed our path and influenced our self-image, our life. Reading your log makes me remember a long row of people.

  5. I think about my grandmother (Maria-Nicola) all the time. She passed away in 1986 - cancer. I still miss her terribly and am still grieving that loss like it just happened yesterday.

    I think about my high school friend, Frank, who died in a car crash during our university years. He was a great guy and would have been a wonderful man.

    I think about my uncle, Pasquale, who passed away in his 60s - way too young.

    I think about Antonio, who passed away because of a fatal fall at a work accident. He was the beloved dad of a young woman who was my best friend from the time we were 9 years old until we were in our early 30s. He'd always welcomed me into his home with a smile and a corny joke.

    I think about Mima's father, Franco, who passed away a few years ago. I used to pass by his barber shop and he always smiled and waved at me. He was the only person I knew who used to drive his automatic transmission car using both feet - one for the accelerator and the other for the break pedal.

    I think about Anna's father, Michele, who died earlier this year. He had strained relationships with his family and it saddens me that he hadn't fixed that before his death.

    There are others, but I should stop. Thank you for allowing me this space to mention those few. I'm sorry for all the loved ones you've lost, but I'm glad for all the wonderful relationships you've had.

  6. Hildegarde:

    Reflections R Us, doncha know? This just popped into my tiny brain from nowhere...

    I'm glad this gave you pause to remember that long row of people to have touched you...


    Wow. Very personal recollections of people you've cared about. You're in touch with your past.

    Being that way gives our lives context and meaning, I think, despite that whole concept of "always looking ahead."

  7. this was an incredible post ww!
    i so often think of people i have met and who are gone- whichever way it was they disappeared- and i wonder where they are and how they're doing and i miss them...
    maybe i should blog about them sometime too!
    love your work...

  8. Angel:

    Thanks...yes, of course you should blog about them!!!

    Me, I can barely make sense of the bytes-per-second, Entertainment Tonight existence we live in now.

    Personally, I find it comforting and grounding to think about the only thing I CAN know about.

    Not ALL the time, of course. Can't always live in the past. But really, it's the only anchor we've got that can hold us steady when the waves threaten to engulf us...

    Or sumthin' like that there...

  9. My mother and father were both from large families. My mother had me late in life as her mother had her late as well. So there were a lot of elderly relatives by the time I popped into the world and it seems they started dropping like flies from my earliest recollection.

    So death and funerals were a part of life for me almost from day one.

    And the cemetery was one of my playgrounds. There were so many family grave sites to attend to that my mother often spent hours weeding and tidying as I played on the grounds.

    After someone died, little me would sit on the lawn in front of our house, waiting for them to ascend to Heaven playing a harp with a halo over their head. Well that's how it happened in the cartoons so it must be true!

    I never did see those harp-playing spirits rise to Heaven but all those souls still live on in my heart.

  10. Most of my life is filled with more bad memories than good, and with more people who hurt me than loved me. Were I to look back and wonder what happened to people, my hopes for their fate would be uncharitably cruel. Tommy M and Guy M rate a mention as two of the most abominable schoolchildren in the history of mankind. Ditto Laura B and Kim S (female Kim).

    On the other hand, I really wonder what ever happened to little Kim B (male Kim) and Garth C, on whom I and my friend had secret crushes for a long time. Actually it was from Kim B I discovered and become fanatic about the X-Files, although he never knew it. I'd also like to know what happened to Lindsay R and Mel W, with whom I went to TAFE. They were both complete wackos, so I fitted in with them very well.

    You've really got me thinking now, although as I said before most of it's not good!

  11. MJ:

    Wow, fascinating story! Death was never a big part of my upbringing and to a large extent still isn't.

    Thanks very much for this, kiddo.


    I AM struck by your expressed feelings, but they're your feelings and your experience.

    I have my share of bad people, I guess we all do...

    What's TAFE?

  12. I've lost a parent as well as many family members including all of my grandparents. I'm acutely aware of the frailty of human beings, and sometimes too aware. I worry constantly that my partner will die in a ditch, and the angriest I ever get is when he doesn't call if he's going to be late.
    I spend sleepless nights worrying that people I care about will die, and I cut off contact with my sister when she had cancer just so I could have some say about when our relationship would end. Death and I don't get along well.

  13. One more thing...

    My mother died in my presence. I won't go into the details but watching her final moments was one of the most profoundly moving experiences of my life.

    She had been in great discomfort and confusion but as death approached, she started laughing and looking toward something... the "Light" I if she were about to be welcomed into another world.

    As odd as this may sound, her death was one of the greatest moments of my life.

    That being said, I miss her terribly.

  14. Tidalgrrl:

    I must confess to being quite clueless about death, particularly seeing some of the very poignant and deep feelings/comments I've received to this post.

    I don't know if this makes me shallow, naive, just not experienced in death enough to know or what.

    I deeply respect what you have said, even if I can't empathize with it because I've not been through it.

    Both my parents are still alive and no close family relatives have died. Perhaps naively, I consider death an inevitable thing, not to be feared.

    I know I will have to deal with the death of close ones in the not too distant future.

    Maybe then, death and I won't get along well either.


    I'm so accustomed to responding to funny, witty, smart-ass comments from you, even to my more serious posts, that I'm both amazed and profoundly happy to see your very personal thoughts here on this.

    My first inclination is to thank you, sincerely, for this disclosure and insight.

    You are one of the most intelligent, deeply feeling people I know in blogland. I knew it already, but I never expected to actually see it be so evident.

    Your experience in this realm far exceeds mine. Thanks for shedding this brilliant light.

  15. Oh shite! I don't want to give anyone the impression I have deep thoughts and feelings! I take it all back!!!

    But getting back on topic...

    Partly because of watching my mother's death, I don't fear my own death. I know I'll be moving along into some other sphere. I just hope they have Internet access there.

    So I don't fear the moment of death but on the other hand, I'm not ready to go yet either.

    Still have a few more things to cross out on my "1001 Things To Do Before You Die" list.

  16. Why are you "struck"? I'm curious!

    TAFE is... actually I forget what it stands for. It's a form of tertiary education which is generally more technical and skills-based as opposed to university which is more book-learning and smart people!

  17. MJ:

    Oh no, perish the thought that you could actually be a sentient being with depth and caring!!!

    I'm sure they must have Internet in that other sphere, and if not, I'm sure you'll introduce it...


    I was just struck by your comment that you have more bad memories than good, filled more with people who hurt you than loved you.

    Maybe I took that out of context, I don't know and in any event, it wasn't a judgment.

    I consider you to be more a positive than a negative person filled with good thoughts and aliveness.

    Not that those two things can't go together, but your comment just surprised me, that's all.


  18. WW - these days I am indeed happy and positive and filled with good thoughts. Such was not always the case. Not to try and seek sympathy, but to tell you the truth - I used to cut myself, contemplate suicide, and occasionally sniff glue (although all I got was a headache!). My friends and I were considered the rejects: a girl with Cerebral Palsey, another with Down Syndrome, and a few of us who just didn't have social skills or weren't cool or had any number of other intangible issues making us unacceptable to the general poplace. My memories reflect all that. But I'm happy to say that I've moved past all that now, I don't dwell on it, I focus on the good things in the here and now. It's all good!

  19. Lots of things going on at present see me only flitting by blogs every few days sometimes...
    TAFE is Technical and Further Education.
    This is a time for reflection for me, too.Remembering old and valued friends, lost friends. But only in a reflective way;no regrets over things I could never change.
    We should never dwell heavily in or on the past, but memories form part of our foundations.The mortar for the bricks, maybe?

  20. Stace:

    Thanks. For your honesty, clarity and courageousness. A lot of people might not have said what you have just said.

    Regardless, I think the true measure of a person is to embrace what's gone before and to realize it's theirs and part of them.

    And those who can move on to something that is better still from what they went through before...

    Duh...I think it's called growth or evolution. I hope you are proud of that.

    From way up here in the Great White North, I think you should be.



    No, hopefully no regrets, because that would be wasteful.

    I like your thought about mortar for bricks.

    But as with any foundation, it's always a good idea to check every once in a while to make sure that mortar's still solid and the foundation that you built upon isn't crumbling?

    As in, to remember where you came from and where you started, so you know where you are now, I mean...

  21. WW - by no means do I deny my past or what I used to be. As you said, it's all part of what makes up the "me" that is here today. But were I to spend to much time dwelling or "embracing" that past, I would become bitter and twisted and resentful. I am proud that I didn't do that, it took a hell of an effort and the love of a wonderful man to get me through. Thanks :)

  22. Just yesterday I had lunch with two old friends from college. We used to hang out a lot in school. I've been in touch with one through the years, we are godparents of each other's first born kids but we had lost touch with the others. Yesterday at lunch we had so much fun talking that it seemed like the intervening years didn't happen.

    It made me realize how important and how nice it is to not forget past relationships. I hadn't realized how much I missed my old friends.

  23. Stace:

    I get what you're saying, it makes perfect sense and whatever works for each person.

    Some may want to embrace their past more than others, whose past might have been something they emerged from rather than evolved from, if you know what I mean.

    In any case, the important thing is always the here and now. Glad that with you, it's the here and wow!


    There you go! Sounds like you had a great time. Melancholy can be a great thing...


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