Monday, October 06, 2008

despite all the ways there are to be human, the variegated range of culture, there's a lot we all have in common-- every culture on earth.  we're all tool-makers, gossips-- we all read each others faces, read for intention, and are consequently adept at making, masking and mimicking them.  we all have a word that means 'one' and a word that means 'two' (although not always a word for zero, or numbers more than several); we all tell stories, and we all pause in our storytelling for effect.  we all live, and we all die, and we all have rituals to honor and mourn the dead.  

my aunt died this morning, unexpectedly.  she died in her sleep-- complications from diabetes-- in the sort of voluntary mental health facility she'd lived in for as long as i can remember, the kind she'd been in and out of for most of her life.  in and out.  not just in and out of institutions, but of everything.  she'd be gone for days or weeks or months and come back with a man or a long coat or empty eyes.  my early memories are punctuated by her comings and goings.  she did a lot drugs, she made plenty of mistakes, and her life for the last twenty years seemed to me to consist primarily in smoking cigarettes on patios and some occasional crafting.  but you could fill a hundred books with all of the things that aren't what they seem to me.  she may have thought thoughts as deep as space, but i never knew them.  i have this sense, though, a common sense, that a special kind of thoughtful regard is due.  so while leah's at home signing all the papers, i wrote a brief obituary as an alternative to the antiseptic form announcements that the paper runs otherwise.  it's not revelatory or illuminating, but i hope it's not sentimental either, and i think it's true.

jill gillespie, 55, was born in january of 1953 to nancy and calvin gillespie, the third of three.  she was curious, artless, gentle on the whole, and utterly without malice.  she was interested to know what was out there.  jill passed away in her sleep early monday morning.  she is survived by her brother, sister-in-law, and two neices.


1 comment:

Jane said...

The entire post is an obit/tribute, and not only the short piece at the end. This enlarges our sense of your aunt, and of human life in general.