Tuesday, August 24, 2010


My aunt passed away on the 25th of April. She was the oldest of my mom's two sisters. My mom was in the middle. Aunt Nonie (short for Vernona) was short. I doubt if she made 5 feet. She was quirky and generous and all about family. She had one child, my cousin Stacy who is 8 years older than me. I thought Stacy was the best thing in the whole world. Since we were the only two grandchildren we were always together for the holidays and all the birthday parties. She took me cruising, taught me how to blow a bubble, and let me beat her at Space Invaders. When she was in college her parents moved to St. Louis. She sent all the members of the family letters saying she was starting her life over and didn't want contact with any of them. I didn't get a letter though. We wrote back and forth for many years. She always wrote on Hello Kitty paper and sent stickers. As I got older and busier our letter writing tapered off. We never saw each other anymore because it was too far to travel for holidays. When Shawn and I got engaged though I knew I wanted to have her as my maid-of-honor. We talked a lot back and forth in the planning time and she was wonderful and helpful and I was so glad she stood next to me.

When she was married 3 months later I was her matron-of-honor. Things were different though. I was in her hometown and I was more in the way. By the wedding morning she'd hardly spoken to me and we didn't talk much after. I was there for everything that she needed, but it wasn't much. After that we really had no relationship. I don't think that anything bad ever happened, we just had nothing in common.

When our grandfather was in poor enough health to be placed in a nursing home Stacy didn't like that the one that our grandmother (actually our step-grandmother) chose because it was an hour away from home. I'm sure she felt that way because her mother was furious. Even though Nonie lived 8 hours from him, she was mad he was farther. She and Stacy quit speaking to Grandma and the family was split. When Grandpa passed away they did come to the funeral but Nonie wasn't herself. Stacy used her young children as a reason she couldn't come to the meals, be in any pictures, sit down front with the family, or stay very long. I hardly saw her. I hated that my girls didn't get to spend any time with their cousins.

Over the years I've called a few times only to have a short conversation that ended when her children needed something. None of my e-mails were ever responded to. When she popped up on Facebook I was thrilled! That's the easiest way I've found to keep up with family members. But she's only on there to play games. She also asked me never to put pictures of her children on because of safety issues. Since I've never been given a picture of her children I knew that wouldn't be a problem. Our relationship didn't get any better.

When I heard that Nonie had died I didn't want to bother her with a phone call. I also didn't feel like an e-mail was appropriate. So I wrote on her wall. It was removed a few hours later. I then sent an inbox message. I was upset.

I sent her this.

I guess since you won't let me leave a message of condolence on your wall, I'll do it here. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. I know what you're going through. And when I lost my mom you sent me a card. Consider this your card.

I know it sounds mean. But I was reaching out. When my mom had died almost 14 years earlier I got nothing. No call, no e-mail, no visit. She went to Minnesota for a gaming convention and I got a card after the funeral. She has never spoken of my mother.

This is what I got back.

Stephanie, I appreciate your sentiment and it is welcome. I'm in a difficult position (with your post) since many people had not yet been told.

At some point, perhaps now, you and I must embrace our differences. I am certainly more private than you.

Our mothers shared many wonderful and loving times together. When I come to visit, I will make sure to bring some of Nonie's things to you and your girls, because I know this is what she would do if still here with us.

I never replied. I don't think courtesy and privacy are the same thing. Or courtesy and family. I didn't know what to do so I decided to wait until she was here for the memorial service.

The other side of our family (not the local) had several people come into town so Friday night about 20 of us met for dinner. I don't know that Stacy had ever met them. As she and her husband, children, and in-laws walked in, everyone stood to hug them. I waited until last and greeted her and put my arms out for a hug. She backed up and told me, "No hug for you. You have germs." I did have strep. But when I mentioned I'd been on antibiotics for three days and we should be safe she just shook her head and walked off. I decided to try again when we all went to my house for dessert.

To prepare for having the family over I'd decorated the dining room table with pictures of Nonie and our families. I'd also put pictures out of Stacy and me. I loved looking back at our times when we were inseparable. Such sweet memories.

But as the family started coming over I noticed Stacy and her family weren't here. I pulled my cousin Andrea aside and asked her if she knew anything. Stacy had told her they had to get her in-laws back to their hotel and they'd stay there so that after everyone was done at my house they could come visit there. Funny thing? She was staying with our Aunt Janis about two miles from my house.

The day of the service was a flurry of family, friends, and food. I sat right behind her at the service and after Kennedy finished her solo Stacy reached back and patted my knee. We took some pictures together at the funeral dinner but before I knew it they had left the restaurant.

So now I don't know where we stand. I guess we're right back where we've always been.

A Facebook message away.


Anonymous said...

That is so sad Stephanie, it sounds like you have done everything possible to reach out. May God Bless you for your effort and give you peace. Pat Mc

Robin said...

How sad. But you've done all you can do. Time to move on.

Melissa said...

Like I told you when we were there, your true family loves you and all the other cousins are thrilled to have you as part of our family. Love you guys and miss you bunches!!!!

Annette said...

I know how you feel, Stefunk! I have the same type of relationship with my cousin. We are facebook friends, but imagine my surprise when I went to her wall to wish her a happy birthday only to discover, that I had been blocked from seeing her wall! It's just sad.