Friday, August 4, 2017

Graves - Tragedy and Denial

I was looking for an old receipt for my shower unit and came across some paperwork of my deceased aunt where she had been sued over the family section of the cemetery. I had forgotten about this but it was a very big deal for her.

My mothers family is from a small town that still has only one light,  After my grandmothers death she decided that the family area of the cemetery should be spruced up. She had a concrete border poured around it and gravel filled it in.  She was really proud of the work and thought that at last she did something for her family.

She received a letter from an attorney stating that she had covered over the graves of another family. A local family that claimed their brother and still born child were buried there. The family still lived there and the matriarch of the family who had dementia became disturbed by the change at the cemetery and wanted it changed back.

My aunts paperwork had a neatly drawn layout showing the graves and the people they believed were in them. I also found records of funeral provided by the funeral home for almost everyone buried there after 1930. Before that it was here say and children were buried on top of other graves which is why we had this dispute..

My aunt her small town in shame.  Her husband left her for another woman the first year she was married.  She was pregnant and after the baby was born she got a divorce and left town leaving her baby with my grandmother. She moved to the closest town and found work waitressing sending money home. An escape from that small town where she was disgraced. She never went back.

Her son died of dysentery at the age of two in the care of my grandmother. My aunt was never the same after that. She stayed in the city working. She meet my uncle a navy pilot. He wore a uniform and drove a red convertible. She had movie star looks and he was in love. They married and she moved about as far north as you can in this country.

Over the years she created a carbon copy of the life she saw on TV right down to the Cape Cod house with the white picket fence. They were not able to have children so they adopted a boy and a girl exactly one year apart both blond. He golfed they belonged to the country club and on the outside it looked perfect. Over the years she built a delusional fortress around herself that could no one penetrated.

Her baby was buried in that cemetery and I imagine that was what drove her to put such effort into fixing it up. She was nearing the end of her life and she wasn't mobile. Everything she did concerning the lawsuit she did over the phone.  She denied the one request from the other family to remove the headstone over the grave of one of there members. Her 4 year old sister was buried there. She refused.

They went to trial with a jury and everything. It wasn't a jury of her peers to them she was just some highfaluting northerner getting into southerners business. She lost and was required to remove the gravel covering and head stones over the disputed graves. She didn't do it and I am guessing that because of the age of everyone involved it never got done.

My aunt was cold and unloving to her husband and her children and frankly to everyone that tried to make her see life in a truthful way. Her two kids were emotionally disturbed to start with and she never really bonded with them. Her son turned to alcohol and her daughter has had a tragic life. She stayed in denial until her death. No one came to the funeral but myself and her caregiver.

I was the closest to her (except her caregiver) at the end of her life. She was more likeable to strangers than those of us who knew the path of destruction she left behind. Literally crushing the people close to her daily with her words.  I was her favorite mostly because I didn't anything from her money or even approval. I can't say back then I had compassion for her like I do today.

Before she died we set up a trust together for her kids and one grandchild. They don't live in luxury but they are not homeless like they have been. She often told them they should be like me. When I was getting my interior design degree she told everyone I was going to law school. To her lawyers, doctors and nurses were stars and so in her mind I had to be a lawyer. I am real popular with her kids.

She was the first born and my mother was the last.  She moved back to the city where she waitressed and that is where I live now. I distanced myself from her until after my uncle died it was too painful to see how unhappy they were and how things got worse as they aged. I spent one day a week there bringing her back into reality for just one day. I was the heavy and she fought me all the way.  She never left her world of denial and in the end she died peacefully. She told me that she was seeing Jesus and other family members that had gone on before her.

When she died we buried her in that same little cemetery in the deep south. Not in the area where she did the improvements but off to the side.  That is appropriate because the rest of the family might just come to life and get up and leave.

Life can be so hard that your mind guards you from reality.  When we can't accept that life didn't turn out like we imagined or some dream we had has been shattered we do our best to survive first and then if we are lucky we get help. We can't rely on our own mind to always tell us the truth. My aunt suffered her whole life and died basically alone it didn't have to be like that.


1 comment:

  1. The mind can block so much, letting in the dream and wishful thinking so as to become their truth. If only such determination and willpower could have lived in the light.