Thursday, January 28, 2010


I realized today that’s what I am: an orphan.

My mother, granted not much of a mother, passed away in 1999. I’d be telling lies if I didn’t say that I still long to tell you we had a typical mother/daughter relationship, that her lessons were many, that I miss her and wish I could talk with her every day. I certainly miss the thought of her, wish we could push a “reboot” button and try again.

My biological father, a ghost from the surface of my childhood, is long gone, vanished into a pool of resentment that I have surfaced from because, had it not been for him, my love of books might not have blossomed, and for that I owe him thanks.

My real father, the man who raised me through thick and thin, has been gone for six years now. His illness lasted a very long thirteen years. As I listened recently to friends dealing with parents going into nursing homes, etc., I recalled planning weekend events around when we’d visit with Dad. Today I wish visiting with Dad meant anything other than pulling the weeds around the plaque in the ground at the cemetery in Owasco.

And two years ago I lost my Aunt Gretchen, my mother substitute. She knew when it was time to give me a call, usually at the very moment when my hand was on the phone to call her. And she usually knew what words to say to mend whatever was falling apart. I still need to talk to her every day and there’s no one else to take her place. If there was some huge disaster, her husband would come to my side, but he wouldn’t “be there” as she was. No one else ever could be.

I’m the oldest sister, the oldest cousin, the one others come to for direction. Often I am a good listener, and I’ve been through the woods a few times, even coming out the other side with only a few bumps and bruises, so my advice can be worthy at times.

But I’m feeling those old orphan blues today. No one to talk to. No one who really understands. That’s why I like listening to music so much….and today I put in Loudon Wainwright III’s “The Last Man on Earth’” CD. And listened to his song “Homeless”. He must have felt the same way the day he wrote these lyrics:

“When you were alive I was never alone
Somewhere in the world there was something called home
Now I feel like I’m homeless
But I will be alright
I’ll get through the days
I’ll get through the nights.”

It's what we orphans do.

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