Geographic Orphan

September 2, 2008 at 5:44 pm | Posted in Family | 4 Comments

I was having a hard time deciding on a title for this post when I remembered hearing the phrase “Geographic Bachelor” used for servicemen whose “regular” duty station is far away from their wives/families.   I don’t know the details of who qualifies as a Geographic Bachelor and who doesn’t, I just decided to co-opt and adapt the term for my own purposes so I could have a title.

Anyway, my family is currently very spread out across this country.  Although, my brother and SIL have PCSd from her overseas assignment, so at least I can say this country instead of this planet.  My parents, brother, sister and I are spread out over four states (sister and Dad are in the same state) and even my cousins are all spread out.  We have 9 different states of residence represented just among the “cousins” and neither of my parents lives in the state they were born and raised in.  I’ve decided that this makes me a geographic orphan (at least for this post).

As we’ve gotten older, more established into our careers and home, and (for some) have started families, the times we’ve all been together have ended up being few and far between.  At this point it’s pretty much weddings and funerals.  Even then we haven’t all been able to make them.  We came pretty close for one cousin’s wedding last fall and it was nice just to spend some time with everyone.  That’s why, even though I know this sounds strange, I’m actually looking forward to my grandmother’s funeral at the end of the month.

Grandma died last month after a massive stroke.  After the stroke she lived more than 36 hours, defying the predictions of the doctors who said she wouldn’t make it 24.  I’m fairly certain the stubborn streak in our family can be traced through her.  The last few years of her life weren’t peaceful or easy.  She had significant dementia and generally didn’t recognize any family.  The last time she said my name it was because she thought she was saying hello to her dead half sister who died close to 40 years ago (one of my namesakes).  There were times that she was somewhat aware of what was going on, but they were limited.  I’m not glad that my grandmother is dead, but the past few years she was existing, not living.  It’s strange how stark the contrast of my maternal grandfather is.  He is two years older than Grandma and “sharp as a tack”.  Heck, I think his memory is better than mine!

So, at the end of the month we will travel from across the country to bury Grandma.  My aunt planned the timing of the services to make it easier for everyone to make travel arrangements and take time off work.  I think this trip will be easier than the last family funeral (no one was murdered this time after all) but I really wish it was for another wedding instead.  Meeting up like this just reinforces my discomfort with our increasingly mobile society and the distance so many families have among members.



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  1. Heh, sometimes those ‘geographical bachelors’ forget that wives might be considered ‘geographically single’, as well.

    Biiiig jump.

    My great-grandmother sounds about like yours did. She has her moments, here and there & more rarely as the time passes, and when the time comes, it’s going to be bitter-sweet to see folks from all over the place. In that vein, enjoy the time with your family…

  2. That wasn’t quite where I was heading with the “geographical bachelor” bit Murphy, but you’re right :) One thing I’ve wondered for a while is which saying came first, “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” or “What happens TDY stays TDY”?

    I will take all the time I can get with my family and I’m sure there will be good parts. Again, it helps that this death was sort of expected. The last one came out of the blue and we were all kind of reeling from the shock.

  3. Sorry about your gramma. :(

    Please stop by my blog to check out the movie with the Ukrainians I filmed.

  4. I saw the film, read the story (sort of with the translation “issues”) and somehow ended up commenting twice. Sorry about the duplicate comment and what I have a feeling was very bad Polish :)

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