Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Personal rant: Saying Goodbye.

Those of you who follow my youtube channel have probably noticed that I haven't uploaded the next part of my Let's Play of Bloodborne or Dark Souls, or really anything of note after the Tales of Zestiria video yet. There is a reason for that; and it's not because I took time off for the holidays (even though I did). The reason is...well...family tragedy.

I was telling a half-truth when I said that my holidays went great a few posts back. My Great Aunt (on my mother's side) Hazel died of old age on Christmas Morning at the age of 103 at her home in Florida. As if that didn't rock our family enough, just last Monday (January 4th, 2016), my Grandmother (on my father's side) Ione died at her home at the age of 93. I won't sit here and pretend that I was super close with either of them, I wasn't. But seeing people who have been apart of your life since you were born die...well it's never easy. Forgive me if I start rambling, but if you would just indulge me for a moment, I just want to talk about them for a while.
My Great Aunt Hazel (in the blue shirt) with her sister, My grandmother(mother's side) Ruth (1911-2003).
I rarely got to see Hazel. As I said, she lived in Florida and, especially in her later years, traveling became difficult, and then it pretty much became impossible as her health deteriorated. But when I was a really young kid, my mother would take me, and my older sister up to Lake Burton in the North Georgia mountains for a reunion of her side of the family (some of her relatives had two vacation homes up by that way). This would happen about once a year during the summer, but these reunions were always somewhat tortuous for me. I was a very young, very naive boy and my mother's side of the family was (and still is for the most part) devoid of men under the age of 30...And all but maybe one or two of my female cousins were older than me...the image of a cat and a wounded mouse comes to mind. The times I was able get away from my tormentors, Hazel and her sister Charlotte (who would die some years after the first reunion that I remember) would be the one who would talk to me, she'd tell me the stories of the old days, she'd listen to me, even tried to teach me how to play Rummy, but I could never get the hang of that. She was a sweet woman. I eventually stopped going to the reunions regularly when I got older. But while we were never that close, Hazel was always nice to me when I saw her. One of the last times I did actually see her was a few years ago, when I went down to Florida with my mother and sister for a visit. By then, her health had started to deteriorate, and her mind was scattered at the best of times, and we all thought that she was nearing the end. She took one look at me and, to everyone's shock and surprise, her eyes lit up, her face became more animated, and she said "Is that Will?" My mother would say later, that maybe that visit, and all of us there (me included) put a little life back into her, and that was one reason that she lived as long as she did. I don't know if that's true myself, but who knows, right?
"Not bad for an Old Broad."
-Ione English (1922-2016)

My Grandmother Ione was one of a kind. A southern gal with a no-nonsense attitude and a yankee wildness that never left her, even in her twilight years. Back in her day, she was a model and an off broadway actress, before settling down and marrying my Grandfather. Even then, she kept acting in Atlanta when she could (for a while at least), even snagged the starring role in Theater Atlanta's production of the musical Auntie Mame with her son, my uncle, back in the 50's. I never knew that growing up, that she and my uncle had done that. I knew she had acted and that had been to New York, in her later years, she wouldn't have let you leave without telling you that. She had dreams, but she exchanged them for family. But she would also say "At least I did it." And that, dear readers, is the advice we all remember her by. "If you want to do something, go do it. Just go do it" If you had met her, she would have come off as arrogant, self-centered. But I think in her own way, she did care, just didn't know how to express it perhaps.

Goodbye, Hazel. Goodbye Grandmother....I love you both.

Oh, and in case you all are wondering about the next Let's Play Video, relax. It's coming.

Thanks for reading.          


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