I am an adult orphan. My Father died in 1997, I was 15 years old. My Mother died in 2010, I was 27. Her death was weeks before my 28th birthday.
Death has been a close friend of mine. Death would be considered with today’s slang as a ‘frenemy’; someone who hurts you but acts as though they can be trusted and caring.
I never met my Grandparents on my Fathers side. My grandmother, his mother may have given him up for adoption or he was taken away from her to be later adopted, either way she could not take care of him anymore. I was told he had a half brother, Allen maybe. And, that he had two white brothers, he would say “his brothers of another color” because of the Mother who adopted him. My Father’s Mother stayed in touch but not close…supposedly.
I never new the Father of my Mother; Vaughan (the Family name). He died when she was young. Then my Grandmother met her second husband, Hill. My Mother loved him and he loved her, from her stories with him she and her Mother wanted for nothing. He was a great Father and provider. They moved from New York to Pittsburgh. He died when my Mother was a teenager. Then my Grandmother met her third and last husband, Hopkins.
She, my Grandmother died when I was four. As the story goes, she may have died holding me. I can’t remember or really know how true that story is but it stays with me. I grew up with the third husband of my Mother’s Mother, as my Grandfather. I had him for a while, then he died. I believe I was a teenager but cant remember the year. The Grandfather I knew, his death was close to my Father’s death.
I never met my Father’s “Brothers” but Father did have one man he was close to like a Brother. Of course my Father had a lot of friends; he was a friendly guy. You wanted to be around him and have him, have your back in a fight. He trusted this friend with his daughter and son, he became my Uncle. They would share stories, laugh and threaten each other on a daily basis, as Brothers do. He died a little over three years after my Father died.
My Mother was an only child but that was made up for with a bunch of cousins from “back home” that were considered siblings. My Great Grandmother was from “back home”, my Grandmother’s mother. We would visit, my Brother and I, every summer – religiously. It was religious. My Great Grandmother ‘Mama Q’ would be the highlight, my pastor for me. I could sit for hours watching TV alongside her, listen to her talk about the weather and farming or just talk to her and she would just listen. Every trip, till she died – was to make sure my brother and I visited her. I was a young woman when she died – early twenties may be. Mama Q’s second daughter died years later. My Great Aunt.
My Mother’s health was deteriorating, we, her children thought from her Type 2 Diabetes but what ended her life was a massive heart attack. We didn’t know about either, we thought she was in the best of health for a diabetic. Complications due to diabetes caused the Heart Attack. She lay in her apartment for two days until a friend and I went to her apartment to check in on her.
My friend wanted to say hi.
I was a little worried she had dipped off “back home” to visit the family without telling me.
My thinking was; “She is an adult. If she wants to leave and not tell me she can. I’ll call the family to make sure she arrived okay.”
She never left… she died alone.
My Father died alone as well.
He had tiny strokes that left him unable to take care of himself on his own. My Mother helped him during the day while I was in school. I would help at night as she was at work. He had another stronger stroke. We couldn’t help him on our own anymore. He was in a nursing and rehabilitation center to recover. He died in his sleep from an Aneurism.
Never to recover.
Never to come back home.
Death and I don’t get along very well. I understand and agree with that it is part of life and is needed. But, I hate Death’s guts.
Not only am I an adult orphan, I am a lone one, though I am not alone. I do have a Brother (brothers actually) and friends and mentors who help keep me sane but I don’t think they get it. And, I cant explain it too well. That with all this death about me from such a young age and almost all of my immediate family gone.
I am lost.
I can not and will not compare myself to a child orphan. That is a different pain.
But, I feel in being an adult; I should be able to move on with loving memories of my Parents, Grandparents, Great Grandparents, Great Aunt and Uncle but I am not moving along so well.
It hit me hard with my Mother’s death. I hadn’t really moved on from my first death experience because I was at a age that I really didn’t understand the lost and reason for it. Then I totally ignored it when my Father died. I lashed out, yelled/ screamed and retreated away. And, to the arms of my Mother. We realized we needed one another more than we would have ever thought. I became numb to the other deaths of my family members; burying it deep within and crying on my Mother’s shoulder when I couldn’t hold it in anymore, because I had her.
I became a master in handling my emotions. Believing I did not need connections. I felt I was strong because of this and then she died; my Mother was gone and so was my so-called strength.
No longer was I in control. I was lost.