Nothing Gold

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay. -Robert Frost

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Location: Arlington, Virginia, United States

I am a white American middle class suburban housewife trying desperately to tell herself that that is not who she is. One time I was a glowing young ruffian. Oh my God it was a million years ago.

Monday, June 26, 2006

In insufficient memory

Today I got an email from my dad about a memorial website created for my uncle Chuck. I don't really recommend that you look at it, but if you like following links, here it is. My uncle died last January (2005) and this site was created by his girlfriend, Cheryl. Looking over it made me think about his death and his life and his memorial service. This post won't be a memorial to him, so much as a testament to how stupid I can be. The memories I have of Uncle Chuck from when I was a child are few. I remember him not coming to many family gatherings. I remember other family members making comments such as, "If we'd said there would be pictures taken, Chuck would have come." I remember him being handsome, tanned, tatooed, and very L.A. I knew that he wanted to be an actor. I remember meeting Cheryl and hearing comments about how she wasn't as young as his normal girlfriends and about how she made a lot of money and some hints as to what that might mean. I remember when he decided to call himself Chas. I formed in my mind a judgemental picture of Uncle Chuck as one of those shallow L.A. actor wannabees. I found out a few years ago that he had cancer. It made me sad, because I don't like anyone to have cancer. I made a concerned face whenever my dad talked about it. Uncle Chuck called me after Levi was born (not many relatives - especially of that generation - did). I listened to him talk about how important family is. I agreed in the right places. I thought to myself, listen to this man, he always lived so selfishly and frivously and now he's dying and he thinks he can lecture me about this stuff, well I am way ahead of him. I didn't go to visit him. When he died, I was sad because death is hard and it is hard when someone you once knew is gone forever, no matter what you think of him. Schuyler and Levi and I didn't make it to the funeral in L.A. on such short notice, but we did go to his burial and what was being called his 'celebration of life', because that's what family does. We rode on two sailboats out in the ocean and scattered his ashes there. I learned many things that day. I learned that Cheryl is a wonderful woman who really really cared about Uncle Chuck. I learned that my dad really misses his brother. I learned that Uncle Chuck and Cheryl went to church regularly. I learned that Uncle Chuck loved sailing and made his living sailing boats from where rich people bought them in Mexico to where rich people lived in L.A. I learned that Uncle Chuck had some really interesting, funny and kind friends. I learned that judging people is really stupid and that I was phenomonally mistaken and that it was too late. After the party, his friends were gathered at the hotel drinking beers and telling stories about him. He was a great guy. My dad said something to me about how ridiculous it was that he didn't know any of these stories about his brother, and how stupid it is that we never make time to get to know our family members until it is too late. We will put our lives on hold and spend a lot of money to go to funerals, when it makes so much more sense to put our energy into getting to know the people we love now.


Blogger kate said...

Good post, Maggie.
The only thing I might say is that it's funny how people who die are automatically saints who never did any wrong. I just don't want to rewrite history when people are gone. Then again, it's best to remember the best of them, instead of letting the good be interred with their bones. I suppose. (really, I just wanted an excuse to quote Shakespeare there. Because I know very little by memory.)

3:34 PM  

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