Friday, October 19, 2007

Aunt June, Part 1

My Aunt June passed last week Thursday (2007.10.11).  My fathers' older sister by 10 years born June Glos in 1943, not sure of the date.  64 years.

From right to left, my grandfather Glenn, my grandmother Edna, holding aunt June, my great-grandmother and grandfather, and my grandfathers' brother George.

Even though I just got back from Europe and 19 days of vacation work was considerate enough when I needed to back to the Midwest for a week for some unpaid time off to spend some time with family.  I flew out on Friday and returned late Thursday night.  There was no official memorial service.  Rather than morbidly stand around a dead body, her children (3) decided to have the body cremated and instead have a gathering over the weekend; more on that in Part 2.

I don't have too many memories of her.  She moved away before I was born and there really wasn't any family get together's on the Glos side, which I would come to find out later was due to a family spat between my Grandfather and his brother.

I spent two months in her home in Tampa Bay, Florida one brutally hot summer between sophomore and junior year in high school (summer of 1987).  Later after her husband passed, she and my cousin Carol (June's youngest daughter) moved back up to Illinois from Jackson, Mississippi.  My Dad and I drove/flew? down there and helped them move back in 2 trucks, my dad driving one and me the other.  My most vivid memory is of either Carol or June harping on me that I drove the U-Haul too close to the center line.

At the time I was going to college full time and working full time so I still didn't get to know my Aunt very well.  I do recall that she was very opinionated and she let you know how she felt.  It was also always kind of weird to here her call my Dad her little brother.  He was, you just never think of your Dad as somebody's little brother.

As time passed life went on and we never really kept up with one another accept for through my Dad.  Last I had heard she had suffered a stroke about 6 months ago, lost the ability to speak, and then finally passed on, although there was a heart attack mixed in there as well.

The Glos family curses that I know of are alcohol, smoking, and what appears to be heart disease.  So some genetic and some lifestyle.  I don't remember her being a drinker, but of all my family members, it appears the I am the only one who has been able to veer away from the smoking habit.  My Dad swears that the smoking is what eventually did the deed, also killing his older brother Glen Jr, and he loves to recite the story of his first heart attack at 43 years old (yea that young) when the doctor leaned over in his ear just after stenting his heart via angioplasty and said, "Quit smoking or die".  He quit the next day for good.

I was there when my Uncle, Glen Jr (nicknamed Chip), passed.  It wasn't a pretty sight and I can still remember it like yesterday.  If you need a reason to quit smoking, go watch someone die from it.  The black liquid he coughed up in his final last breaths will be etched in my mind until the day I die.  My father took it pretty hard and from my phone conversations over the phone, he was angry and hurt that June never stopped the habit either.

I was second guessing myself.  Do I go?  Do I stay?  I'm out of vacation.  I didn't know June all that well but my Dad sure could use me.  I made the choice.  Gotta go.  No kicking yourself later for, "I should've".  And money, well... that's all well and good but 10 years from now you're going to remember being there for family, not what you did at work and why you didn't go.

After a nice conversation with my employer Edith and my direct boss Jill, who both reinforced and encouraged me to go, I made arrangements not really knowing at the time whether there was a service or what was going on.  Luckily, you can lessen the cost of airline flights by calling directly and getting a bereavement fare, but you have to have the funeral home name and address, funeral directors name, and name of the deceased so that they can check up on you.

So I arrived in Chicago O'Hare airport on Friday at around 7PM CST.  It took me 2 hours just to get out of the there with the rental car, what a nightmare.  Standing in the Avis line for 45 minutes and the funny thing is that it's normal.  Every Friday the agent told me.  Well why don't you guys staff for the this then?

More later...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Morning Bike Commute

Sunrise in Portland

Sore butt when I took off from the house this morning from the commute home last night and not having ridden in 2 months.  My mind was playing games.  Telling me that it would be so much easier to just drive to work.  But then I think about my weight and my family history of heart disease and then I see this gorgeous sunrise.  I stopped and took a picture.  Once I got to work I was glad I rode even if I am 10 minutes slower than I was 2 months ago.  It feels great.  It's a strange play between motivation prior and enjoyment afterwards; even when you know you'll feel good when it's over it's hard to take that first step... but the rewards are worth it.