"Jeanie,Jeanie,Jeanie." I heard Lady Love's voice calling me off in the distance. I tried to shake myself from a very deep sleep. She handed me the phone: "It's Robin."
Robin's voice came through in a bursts of sobs: "Oh Mom,Mom, Uncle Bob died. He had an aneurysm and died with in three hours. Aunt Jo would have called but she did not have your phone number."
I responded with, "Well, we just ran out of time." I was filled with a strong grieving pain that seemed to envelope my body. Robin and I talked. Elizabeth and Kathryn called into the phone,
"we love you ,Granny!" Robin continued to fill me in on few things about his passing and then she said, " Aunt Jo wants you to call. I'll give you her number. "
"Really?"My heart leaped in my body with the thought of hearing her Jo's voice. I had not talked to her in so long. I thanked Robin, we said our goodbyes.
I dialed Jo's number and waited with nervous anticipation---I was afraid how I would react to the sound of her voice. I did not want to burst into tears and make her feel any worse than
she was already feeling.
My niece, Sally answered the phone. She was calm,and sweet told me a few things about my brother's health and then asked, "How are you doing?"
I answered with a quiet,"OK, I guess. It hasn't all sunk in yet---I was asleep. It will take a little time for me to absorb. I am happy that he did not suffer and that he slipped away peacefully."
Sally said aside,"Mom, it's Aunt Jean."
The next thing I heard was Jo's, strong calm voice say,"Hi, Sis." Years of distance seem to crumble away as we talked. I was overjoyed to hear her voice:
"Sis, your brother was a hard and stubborn man. We had 53 years and for the most part we were in good health and I guess one cannot ask for more than that."
I said,"I only wished he would have had at least a dialogue with me."
"Yes, I'm sorry about that ,too," she said.
We told each other how we had never stopped loving each other and we were still each others sister. She thanked me for welcoming her as my sister when she came from Germany to our home. We again agreed that we did not ever want to have a division between us.
I ask if I could bring Lady Love and come and see her some time. She said that would be nice
I told I would call about when the services would take place. We closed our conversation with ,
"I love you."
Then I called Robin, briefly to relay my conversation with Jo.
Her response:"Oh, Mom , I prayed you and Aunt Jo would make a bridge for each other. I'm so thankful."
(My Dear,Mother Hen,Robin,me too,me too.)
We always close our conversations with, "I love You."
Monday morning,June 17th
Having spoken with my daughter last night, I felt the need to see how my son, Jeff was doing. He deals with death in a strong matter-of-fact way and his pain is private. So I knew I should call and talk with him.
When I ask him, "How are you doing?"
He came back like a flash. "No, Mom how are a you doing?
"Hangin' in, hangin' in. Just needed to talk to you."
"I told Pat if I didn't hear from you I would call you tonight."
After I chatted with both he and his wife,Pat I realized how wonderful it was to have exchanges with my children at this sad time. We were about to hang up when Jeff said, "Oh,Mom please give our love to Lady Love."
Hearing love coming to Lady Love and I over the phone is important. My children always supported me even in my gayness. Thank you dear children.
We closed our conversation with "I love you."
Monday night June 17th
I called Jo to find out about funeral arrangements. Jo told me the visitation would be
evening: Bob would be cremated and the memorial service would be Wednesday at St. John's.
I ask if there was a memorial fund; I preferred sending a check rather than flowers. I told her I would not come. I felt strongly that he did not wish to see me in life and that he would not wish me to be there in death. I felt it was the last way I could respect his wishes.
Jo and I confirmed that we would never have a division between us; I would write her and we would try to see each other.
We closed our conversation with, "I love you."
Tuesday, June 18th
I went into work about 11:30---the girls ask me how the week-end went. I told them I was
devastated; my brother whom I had adored and looked up to had died without us ever having one word of dialogue about what was a life issue for me; the fact that I was gay,a lesbian and I had known I was "very different" since before I was 10.
At 1:30 a bouquet of roses arrived from the five women I work and was signed "We love you."
They all knew I was gay and they loved and respected me for the woman I am. It was great to be surrounded by their love.
My grieving for my brother has been ongoing for years, for he refused to see me, talk with me, or write to me, or respond to me in any way. I have never stopped loving him.
So with or without grief, I would have always closed a conversation with my brother by saying
"I love You."