My aunt Ruth passed away today after an amazing five year personal battle with cancer.
I have mixed feelings – not about her passing – but about our relationship. In fact I don’t have mixed feelings I just don’t want to go into the whole thing about who she was to me, what she was to me. Apparently she was my god mother….pointless really.
She was a courageous women, she had a story without a doubt from growing up in Germany to escaping the 3rd Reich and finally settling in Australia. She married my mother’s brother and made her success and his. She was a hard woman, an opinionated woman, dysfunctional and generous. I remember going to Miss Mauds in Perth – an all you can eat German restaurant it blew my mind. I remember her infectious laugh, her clipped German speech and her definitive way of making a point. I didn’t like her, I am not sure if she liked me, I didn’t really know her, I didn’t really have anything to do with her as I pursued my career and I don’t think she understood who I was or what I did or achieved but then why should she.
My brother had a relationship with her and my Uncle which seemed to be important to him – sadly because we didn’t grow up with a dad and in ways I hoped that my aunt and uncle may have fulfilled that role – for me they didn’t but perhaps for my brother they did. I am glad my brother saw the better side of them that I never did. As I type that it sounds harsh but it is my failing rather than theirs.
Ruth was diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago – she was counselled to undergo treatment which she refused and which was typical of who she was – she would do it her way. There was a lady who was diagnosed at the same time as Ruth who took the prescribed treatment and consequently died as the doctors had said in two years. Ruth went her own way and lasted for 5 years and made the most of it. Importantly for me she made amends with my Mother and the two of them went on weekly outings watching movies, shopping, drinking wine and eating oysters – I think in ways they became the sisters to each other that they never had – they loved each other, they fought each other, they disagreed, they enjoyed, they became journey women – it is perhaps a shame and a blessing that it happened because my aunt got cancer – that in facing death and the struggle for life my aunt came to rely on my mother in a way that she possibly fought all her life – she never wanted to rely on any one – but what are friends for??? Why do we cheat ourselves out of the very basic and deserved relationship of others??
My sincerest condolences go to her children and to her husband – this is life and this is death at the very least you had plenty of time to make your peace and come to terms with the inevitable although of course now seems too soon and nobody is really ready are they.
It always strikes me that it is not the dead but the living that suffer the most. Death is such a finite experience that in ways it remains incomprehensible and perhaps the only way to deal with it is to believe in a heaven and that we will all catch up for a party in the afterlife….nice thought but it is a far too painful thing to live through and the loss is all too deafening.
Vale Aunty Ruth – thank you for the good times, I forgive you for the bad times and I am glad that you made amends with my Mother and that together you were able to make the journey towards death a much more enjoyable and celebratorous experience. In that you have taught me much.
R.I.P Ruth McKibbin