MarionsThere are coincidences, accidents, happenstance and serendipity but I wonder if those curious, unanticipated incidences just happen for no reason at all. Allow me to share a few thoughts.

I just learned that the last sibling of my father recently died. This was my 100 year old Aunt Florence. My wife and I had sent her flowers on her 100th birthday and now I learned that she died almost the next day.

She was from California, lived in Arizona and I live in Texas, so our family communications were sparse. None of her children were living and her passing seems to have been almost anonymous. I  discovered it by trying to phone her and learning her number was disconnected. My only other relative on that side of the family, a second cousin (or maybe first cousin, once removed… ?), did not know anything about Florence. No obituary in the local newspaper. I eventually found the Social Security Death Index record that recorded her death.

The curious incident was this.

My Aunt Florence and her sister, Josephine, had not gotten along for over 30 years and never spoke. My Aunt Josephine apparently had a change of heart and phoned Florence when Florence was in a nursing home in California and at the moment of the call, Florence was headed out the door to return to Arizona. They never spoke and Josephine died soon after.

I phoned Florence to follow up on the flowers we sent to honor her 100th birthday but only talked to a nurse at her home, who said that Florence was going to a respite care facility, that she loved the flowers and would be back home in a few days. So like my Aunt Josephine, I came close but she and I did not get to speak. At least she liked the flowers.

I am coming to grasp that a long life very often outlives everyone else (fairly obvious) and the consequence of that is one is left without the network of relatives who communicate and keep everyone connected about what’s happening. There is more to a long life than we contemplate and aging seems to get more complicated all the time.

I’d like to think there is a reason for everything. The hard part is knowing what that is.

Image: From bottom to top, my Father, Aunt Josephine, Aunt Florence, about 1922.

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