Today's Loss Thursday, August 18, 2011

I have all but abandoned this blog. I think it has been over a year since I posted anything here. At this point, writing here reminds me of Forest Whitaker's character in the movie Phenomenon telling his story over a radio that he knows no one is listening to. That is fine.

My parents divorced when I was 10 years old. My Mother was put in a position where she had to take action. She put myself and my 2 sisters in the car and drove across the country to St. Louis where she had grown up and where her family lived. We had made the trip before for summer vacations but this time it was for good. I can only imagine how terrifying this must have been for her. Imagine a 10 year old car, kids 10, 12 and 13, some clothes and nothing else, nothing. I expect many people couldn't do it.

We got to St. Louis where there was lots of family support. My Mother had 2 brothers and a sister all in St. Louis along with her parents. Her sister Brenda took us into her house. She had a great place in a great neighborhood in the suburbs. Brenda was a single Mom with 3 kids of her own but her home was ours. I was young enough that I would not have been involved in financial discussions but I am sure this was a hardship for her take on 4 more people. My Mother had been a housewife and I think she left our home in Virginia with no money. If she had any money, I don't think it could have been very much. 3 kids, no money, no career.

During those first few months when we lived at Aunt Brenda's house, it really was a pretty good time for me. I spent time with my cousins. We had a great place to live. We did a lot of fun things on the weekends. It was tough working out the deal with my Dad no longer being with us but the day to day was good and the reason it was good is that Brenda took us in and made sure we had everything we needed. My grandparents, Uncles and Aunt were all there to provide support in lots of ways but it was Aunt Brenda's house we lived in and she bore a lot of the burden. I doubt she ever gave it a thought.

Aside from my Mother, it may be that Brenda is most responsible for our survival during that time, that of myself my Mother and my sisters. When I think about the time immediately following my parents' divorce, I think about the time I spent living in her house. We weren't living in a crappy motel or worse. Because of her we lived in a fantastic place and had everything we needed.

Today, Brenda's battle with cancer has come to a crushing end. I am crushed. I am crushed as I think about my cousins, her kids who are without her. I am crushed as I think about my Mother who just 2 months ago lost her Mother and now her sister.

Brenda was a tiny woman but a feisty take charge kind of woman. She didn't take any shit from anyone and if I worded it any other way, she might have taken offense.

I thank Brenda for everything she did for us. If I was a poet I would write a tribute to her. If I could paint I would paint a tribute to her. As it is, I will be thinking about her and the rest of the family and will do my best to be inspired by what she did for me and my family.