Exit stage left.

History is a strange thing. Family gatherings seem to be, for the most part, comprised of rehashed debates on the one thing family members have in common: History. These past two days have been spent at my grandfather’s funeral where I witnessed family members, with whom I share next to no history, plumb the depths of their common histories in remembrance.

I did learn some things. For instance, it was announced by the priest that my grandfather was apparently known to all my cousins as “Papa”. I, the first grandchild of the family, didn’t know we were calling him this. I believe I always addressed him as “Grandpa” if I ever addressed him at all. In fact, I didn’t know my grandfather and what I did know of him was that he told corny jokes and was slightly prone to moments of arrogant pettiness. Not that he wasn’t a generally good person, but someone I found a mere casual acquaintanceship with was more than enough of a good thing. So I have found his passing a non event. He will merely continue to not be a part of my life.

For my cousins though, the loss of our grandfather has been visibly significant. Tears flowed during the internment and during the memorial service. One cousin spoke at the service proclaiming my grandfather played a significant role in the development of his dreams and aspirations. It was strange to suddenly realize that this caricature who would pop up in my life once a year, was a real person to the rest of my family — one who’d played a role in their lives.

It was strange to reflect on this as I lowered his urn into the grave feeling no connection to him at all (this was a duty sprung upon me upon my arrival, I think mostly for my mother’s sake). It was strange to realize I didn’t feel uncomfortable about this or feel hypocritical. It was also strange to realize I did not feel bitter or that I’d really missed out on anything. I really felt nothing at all regarding the passing of the man himself.

The sorrow of my grandmother, mother, aunts, uncle, cousins and my grandfather’s friends did affect me. It’s touching to see people gathered together to form a new chapter in their collective history: the passing of a beloved friend.

But it’s not a history I play a role in. My history is set on a different stage.

12 Responses to Exit stage left.

  1. aporia says:

    aside from the being around grieving people and feeling bad that you aren’t close to anyone, i think i was mostly upset because i imagined being old and you dying on me and having no family to get together and have a nice funeral for you and be sad that you’re gone and take care of me. and now that i think about it, there’d be nobody at a funeral for me if you die first. i was crying because these people seem to care about each other (even if a funeral idealizes everything) and i probably will never really have that, and you will never really want that. your mother said i could talk you into having kids… ugh, that’s so sad.

    • mrdapper says:

      i have no doubt many of those people would say nice things about me and believe that they know me quite well even though they never see me. some of my cousins may even cry. i was always sort of idealized in that family because i was the first grandchild. put on a pedistal, if you might.

  2. aporia says:

    aside from the being around grieving people and feeling bad that you aren’t close to anyone, i think i was mostly upset because i imagined being old and you dying on me and having no family to get together and have a nice funeral for you and be sad that you’re gone and take care of me. and now that i think about it, there’d be nobody at a funeral for me if you die first. i was crying because these people seem to care about each other (even if a funeral idealizes everything) and i probably will never really have that, and you will never really want that. your mother said i could talk you into having kids… ugh, that’s so sad.

  3. mrdapper says:

    i have no doubt many of those people would say nice things about me and believe that they know me quite well even though they never see me. some of my cousins may even cry. i was always sort of idealized in that family because i was the first grandchild. put on a pedistal, if you might.

  4. aporia says:

    oh sure. that was hardly my point though.

  5. atrophe says:

    I’m sure if either of you died you’d have whats left of your friends there to bear witness. And they’d probably make it more than an idealized ritual. My older sister once noted that once you leave home you begin to realise that your friends and loved ones become closer than family. Family is usually always in the background, but those you’ve chosen to bring into your life usually know you better.

    Hell I’ll pour a 40 over yo graves.

  6. atrophe says:

    I’m sure if either of you died you’d have whats left of your friends there to bear witness. And they’d probably make it more than an idealized ritual. My older sister once noted that once you leave home you begin to realise that your friends and loved ones become closer than family. Family is usually always in the background, but those you’ve chosen to bring into your life usually know you better.

    Hell I’ll pour a 40 over yo graves.

  7. aporia says:

    i was never close with my family and felt the same way about friends, that they are the family you choose. the problem with that is i’ve started to feel as though friendship is less stable and dependable than i would like it to be. people i have loved and trusted have fallen short of my expectations. i’ve grown apart from or been betrayed by most of my chosen family. i’ve started to wonder if blood (or even just the formality of relation) can make a relationship stronger. maybe if i worked really hard at it and cared more than my parents (who were just teenagers pressured into marriage by a pregnancy), maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to have a normal happy family.

    then again, i’m terrified of getting trapped in another disfunctional family relationship, and suspicious that all these feelings are biologically or socially driven. and i know by the time i die i will probably have established better and more lasting friendships.

  8. aporia says:

    i was never close with my family and felt the same way about friends, that they are the family you choose. the problem with that is i’ve started to feel as though friendship is less stable and dependable than i would like it to be. people i have loved and trusted have fallen short of my expectations. i’ve grown apart from or been betrayed by most of my chosen family. i’ve started to wonder if blood (or even just the formality of relation) can make a relationship stronger. maybe if i worked really hard at it and cared more than my parents (who were just teenagers pressured into marriage by a pregnancy), maybe it wouldn’t be so hard to have a normal happy family.

    then again, i’m terrified of getting trapped in another disfunctional family relationship, and suspicious that all these feelings are biologically or socially driven. and i know by the time i die i will probably have established better and more lasting friendships.

  9. mrdapper says:

    do reptiles drink whiskey?

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