Carrie Maldonado – Writer

Freelance writer, wordsmith, and novelist

It has been a week of introspection, some sadness, death, near death, profound frustration, and in the midst of it great joy and laughter. So in other words, just a normal week for the most part. I’m always amazed and humbled at how insignificant ‘big deals’ are made in the wake of actual big deals.  One such big thing lately was my aunt passing away. The somewhat good thing about this was that she had been lingering in a near-vegetative state for three months. What was sad, and led me to some significant introspection, were some of the other circumstances.

My aunt suffered from a genetic condition that meant she couldn’t have children, and had some other cognitive challenges on top of that. At some point in her life, she had decided that this meant she also should never marry and she devoted her life to Jesus – something like the Pentecostal version of a nun. I think we all have a person or two in our lives who move us closer to a faith in God, and some who move us farther away. Sometimes the most devout of people can be challenging in the way they communicate their faith. I don’t think I’m being overly political to say that a lot of people have been hurt over the years by a philosophy that says if you don’t believe as we do, you need to be persecuted…and even though it’s Christians who are on the receiving end of that now (I said not OVERLY political, not non-political) I’ve also seen a lot of ugly behavior from those who claim the name.

I have come to a place where I believe my aunt’s heart was in the right place, but can also acknowledge the damage done by overzealous ‘sharing’ of her faith, and perhaps a bit more focus on the law than on grace.  There were other dynamics at play as well, not the least of which were geography and timing, but the end result was a very sparsely attended service. There was a time when I thought I, too, would be the unmarried aunt with no children and no one to mourn me when I died so I identified quite a bit with the whole concept of legacy or lack thereof. It definitely renewed my desire to seek to understand and the importance for me to invest more in relationships than in things that aren’t really important in the big picture.

It also made me reflect on my last book (The Grace Group). The protagonist in that story also faces death – first as an atheist and as the story progresses, as a believer. One’s view on the whole thing is so different depending on what you think happens after you die. People who don’t believe in God are the ones who are most angry with Him for ‘letting’ this or that happen in this life – believing it’s the only one that matters. A life cut short when this is all there is, is definitely a tragedy. Believing there’s more, and that there’s comfort that we observers aren’t perceiving, takes the sting out.

But it wouldn’t be us if there weren’t some humor/horror involved in the whole thing. In Canada, the graves are open – did you know that? And if all the available adults are carrying the casket, there are not any hands available to keep #NoBen from falling in. NO, he didn’t but I think we were all a little worried. And Bisky in her snazzy red boots tripped TWICE putting the flowers on the casket and I DID have to grab her. I think even the funeral guy gasped one time.

And of course there was the trip there and back. I didn’t dare write about it until now, because what if the burglars read my blog and decided to rob us while we were gone, but it was half good and half horrible. Going up was great. We were all in pretty good spirits overall (believing my aunt was in a better place and all, we weren’t overly downcast). We got over the border and stocked up on all the staples: Timbits, Cheezies, ketchup chips, Smarties…you know what I’m talking about! My kids have about 150 cousins and second cousins in California, my only sibling only has one son, so my kids were very excited to see him. And of course they adore the poor, beleaguered cats my sister owns. But it was all good, and all three of our kids slept in their appointed areas. WIN.

Unfortunately, it all fell apart on the ferry ride home. #NoBen was out of sorts and cranky, which for him means epic meltdowns designed to make me look like the incompetent parent I always judged others to be. First they fought over window seats (On a BOAT. That is ALL windows. In the middle of the OCEAN. Which doesn’t CHANGE) But that was cause for great distress, weeping and gnashing. And then there was the unparalled trauma of me going to the bathroom. Or Dreamy going to the bathroom. Or pretty much anything. Whatever he didn’t have, he wanted and if he had it, it enraged him. Yup, he was THAT kid; full-on lying down on the floor kicking, screaming, and trying to hit me. At one point, I started walking away, leaving Dreamy with all three of them, until I remembered I’m not actually allowed to do that. So I slunk back grudgingly. We eventually had to go sit in the car to protect innocent bystanders from us.

But it all ended peacefully. Dreamy is still not the same, poor guy. Being so old, he needs extra time to recover from trauma. Last night Bisky told me she wants my help picking a husband when she gets older, so I can help her pick one just like Daddy, except maybe a little nicer when her children weren’t behaving. I told her that it’s not Daddy’s job to be nice when people don’t behave well. And then…Why are you so concerned about getting a husband, anyway? She didn’t know. But I’m glad she has a Daddy whom she loves and who is serving as a good role model for future males in her life. So I guess overall we’re doing something right!

And now is probably a good time to do a shout out to my fabulous sister. See, I was supposed to be executor of the will, but because my aunt was in Canada, apparently me executing (is that the word) the stuff would be a bad idea because of taxes. At least, that is what they told me, when they strongly suggested my aunt name my sister the executor instead. Now, I’m not saying they all decided I was just too overextended (i.e. flaky) to fulfill my duties properly. But I’m not saying they didn’t. Or that it wouldn’t have been justified. For example, here is how the duties have been undertaken (so to speak) thus far:

Good sister:

  • Arranged for the body to be transported
  • Bought a burial plot
  • Arranged for funeral services
  • Went to apartment and found important papers
  • Found bank accounts
  • Got a death certificate
  • Got a lawyer
  • Got insurance for car
  • Talked to landlady
  • Did a million other things while still running a business

Bad sister (i.e. me)

  • Wrote an obituary
  • Didn’t post it anywhere

As I texted the good sister earlier today…I had ONE job…I also tried to plead twins but I think we’ve all gotten a little tired of that one-even me. I’m just glad one of us is a mature and responsible adult, capable of taking care of responsible adult things, in a responsible adult manner. Thanks Ames! YOU’RE the bestest!

So Happy Tuesday! Hug your loved ones and be kind!

That is all:)

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