Monday, July 2, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Generation

Just a warning, this post is definitely not going to be the typical post for me. No talking about working out or what I ate.

Thursday night/early Friday morning, my great aunt passed away. I am writing this not for a lot of sympathy or "I'm sorry's." I wasn't very close to her. However, I do feel a pronounced sense of loss. I never knew my mother's parents. The only grandparents I knew were on my father's side. The Italian side.

My grandfather passed away in 1989 when I was 14. His sister, my Aunt Helen, was sort of all I ever felt like I had left of him, of my Italian heritage. So, while I wasn't extremely close to my Aunt Helen, I do feel a great loss. The last of a generation is gone. Any family history that wasn't told, is gone.

She was 87 years old. She lived a full life. She died peacefully in her sleep. But now the family has changed. Where do we find our history, our background, the stories of family coming over from the Old World? Does it matter? Yes and no. We are who we are regardless. But to know where you really came from...it's something that means a great deal to me.

How did the values of my family's past shape me today? Did they at all? I think they surely did. I think they shape all of us. How could they not?

So, my heart is heavy. Definitely some regret. I hold my family near and dear to my heart. But I probably should have counted slightly more extended family just as close.

I guess I'm just writing this mostly to get it out, off my chest, express emotions. I know some families are very close and others, not so much. I know that some people don't really make a big deal about their heritage, and others do.

I feel immense pride to know that I have an Italian background. I pride myself in a lot of the "characteristics" such as being stubborn, out-spoken, speaking with my hands, animated facial expressions, passionate.

So tomorrow I will be seeing my family, all of my family, collectively saying goodbye to the last of a generation. Saying goodbye to a matriarch. And it's just another reminder of how we should always always remember to appreciate those in our lives. Don't ever take tomorrow for granted as it's not a given.