Becoming the ‘older’ generation
he last surviving member of our Father’s large family passed away recently. Suddenly, that generation — our paternal uncles and aunts and their partners — are gone. There’s no one whom we need to visit when we go to this place or that, no one to send a card or a letter to because they are not on email for themselves, no one to struggle to talk to over the phone because their hearing is failing and we need to repeat every question and every answer before the message is understood. For them, WhatsApp and SMS and other things that could make conversation easier were impossible to fathom, so we did not suggest resorting to those “conveniences”. We had barely become comfortable with them ourselves!
Now, there’s also no one who recalls some minor misdemeanour from our distant past and can talk about it good-humouredly, without making judgements, teasing us and supporting us in one breath as only someone who cares deeply for us can. And there’s no one who can tell us what actually happened all those decades ago when our father was young and mischievous and forever annoying his siblings, whether by design or by reason of his existence.
Many stories had come to us over the years, but we suspected that what we were told was a highly sanitised version since it was narrated by Father himself, and naturally, he had painted himself into the picture as the good guy, the obedient follower of parental rules. We knew from the impish glint in his eye that he was anything but what he proclaimed himself to be ... but exactly how naughty was he? How many pranks had he played that were worse than ours? And therefore how much leeway did that give us with our own mischief?
It was only from our aunts and uncles that we could get the true version, or at least a more believable version — so they were obviously high on our list of favourite people.
Now there’s nobody with the “inside” stories and there’s nobody who will ask lovingly and totally without preference or bias after us, our siblings, our cousins and all our families