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Aunt Merlyn

I feel I should write something about my Aunt Merlyn, who died a week and a half ago at age 86. She was my mom's eldest sibling. I was never very close to her, and I can't even remember staying at her house, as I did with all my other aunts and uncles on my mom's side. Her three boys, my cousins, were all much older than I was, so they were closer to my sister and brother than to me. She was a devout Mennonite to the very end. She outlasted her husband, Paul, who died a few years ago.

I don't think I even talked with her very much over the years, although certainly we chit-chatted now and then. Perhaps it says something that one of my clearest memories of her is of one time in my college days walking into a Denny's or VIP in Eugene with a friend, high as a kite on LSD or some such, and running into Merlyn and Paul. We talked briefly about my folks and their kids and the weather. I have no idea whether they could see the pinwheels spinning in my eyes -- as Mennonites they didn't even drink, so what did they know of unsober people? -- but they certainly didn't let on. They were as pleasant as ever, and we only chatted briefly.

Kind of a dumb memory, but there it is. Life as she is lived. I remember family gatherings at their old farm house, which was eventually taken over by my cousin Dennis, who also took over the farm. I remember a couple of family gatherings at their new place after that, which had a small private park associated with it. Merlyn was always pretty quiet and reserved, at least compared to her lippy younger sisters, and she got quieter as she got older. The eulogy her grandchildren gave (which my sister forwarded to me) talks about a grandmother who made a quilt for each of them when they got married, just like her mother had done for her own grandchildren. (I got two quilts from grandma even though I never got married. Go figure. Grandma used to tell me I should get married so that I had someone other than the government to blame all my problems on.)

Merlyn had a hip replacement in later years that was executed badly and caused her a lot of pain. She started having serious heart problems last September, which also caused a lot of pain. She went on morphine, and the easing of the pain seemed to improve her overall health. She lasted months longer than anyone thought she would.

I didn't know her well. She was a quiet presence at many family gatherings, perhaps hard to notice amidst the more raucous members of the crew. The last time I saw her was at the family reunion in Corvallis last summer. She had a walker, and she looked worn down. Remote. Did I even say hello to her? She sat next to me and my aunt Myrna listening to us talk -- or listening to her own thoughts, I don't know. Staring off into the distance. She didn't say a word until she was ready to go and asked my cousin Marvin to help her. I'm pretty sure I said goodbye, but in case I didn't I'll say it now.

Goodbye, Aunt Merlyn. My memories are poor things at best, but you are in them.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2012 05:00 pm (UTC)
What a pity!
Mar. 31st, 2012 06:48 pm (UTC)
This is a sweet memorial, honest about your relationship with the deceased and yet acknowledging her passing.

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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