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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Linda Rader Overman & ordinariness

When I began this blog I thought about what it would be like to record the simple, unaffected, ordinariness of my life.

I don't know if I really knew what the word ordinary meant, I just felt compelled to type the word, ordinary. Something I have been afraid of being labeled most of my life. I always thought the wallflowers at the dances in middle school were ordinary, or that girls who had no boys chasing them were ordinary, or girls who stayed home on Saturday nights were ordinary. And then I became best friends forever with a girl who embodied those traits, and then that forever friendship suffered when she died in a very ordinary way, but that is another story, and some of it is in a novel I published a couple years ago and needs no reiterating here.

Anyway, I would rather talk about this ordinary moment, this non-fictive element.

Last night sitting in a hospital room while I watched my 97 year old aunt (my dead mom's sister) hovering between the now and her past, her death or its coming has turned out to be quite ordinary. Something she never wanted it to be.

My aunt's beautiful Hollywood Hills home was taken back by the bank when she was moved into a nursing home a few years back. The result of a reverse mortgage decision, which became irreversible when money troubles loomed long ago. She had filled the house with expensive and tasteful possessions, which when viewed more closely by assessors, later, turned out to be quite worthless and ordinary. The point for her was to make her life and everything in it look extraordinary.

And as I continued sitting by her hospital bed, with my daughter and I telling my aunt that she should just let go and embrace the light that will come to her as it does to all who meet their end, I realized also that transitioning from this life to the next does not have to be anything out of the ordinary.

It just is what it is and that is just fine.

Never mind the drama and the sadness of my aunt's life, which was not exactly what she wanted it to be. Two marriages, one divorce and a daughter who hated her so much that she stopped speaking to her years ago and now is missing from her mother's life caring not a whit whether she lives or dies.

Sad choices but of my aunt's own making. And isn't that what life is--a choice we make. And now she is making her death her choice, refusing all food and medications. She is ready. And maybe I am ready to consider the ordinariness of my own life more seriously without feeling like a failure. But I am not entirely sure yet.

I only know that my being labeled as ordinary is not the worst word I have been called.