The reason it’s been a bittersweet vacation is because my mom’s sister—my sweet Aunt Dot—passed away during the week. Mom would not leave Aunt Dot’s side so she didn’t start the vacation with us, which seemed odd. Our annual family congregation is the high-water mark of Mom’s year; she says she’s never happier than when all her chickens are under one roof.
It was weird, being at the beach trying to have fun while Aunt Dot was suffering and Mom was with her. Yet Mom insisted we continue with the annual pilgrimage. She insisted we come to the beach and make merry. She didn’t want to let anyone down, especially her grand-kids, so we came without her.
After 2 days, Aunt Dot died. My brother, my sister and I made the car ride from the beach to her funeral. Anticipating this possibility, we had tucked funeral clothes into our bags, right next to our bathing suits and beach towels.
The drive to the funeral is the only time I can remember being alone with my siblings, just the 3 of us, as adults. It was a special time, which added to the complexity of contradicting emotions.
Once we arrived at Aunt Dot and Uncle Jerry’s house, we were greeted by distant relatives that we only see at weddings and funerals. I know that’s fairly typical of big families but it would be nice to see them more often.
After the funeral, visitation and family gathering, the sibs and I made a late night road trip back to the beach. Mom and Dad joined us the next day, so by Wednesday we were all together.
I’m waxing nostalgic because that’s how I feel. It was a wonderful and sad and hilarious and frenetic and heartwarming and heartbreaking week.
We’re already planning next year.