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In Memory - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
In Memory

Hugo was a good man. He joined our family late in life: Aunt Ellen met him when her daughter was mostly grown, when I was in my early twenties. Still, he gave my aunt almost 20 years of happiness, and it is her loss for which I grieve, much more so than my own.

I remember for my grandmother's 80th birthday, even though he didn't know most of us, he invited our entire family our to his summer house on Shelter Island, NY. He and a friend shared ownership of a yacht, and took us out on the water. It was a beautiful sunny day, and he strode along the decking pointing out sights and hoisting ropes. I had a mild crush on his boat boy, which everyone politely pretended not to notice.

I remember him packing us lunches to take with us on the plane, and being so impressed that a millionaire would take the trouble to make sandwiches for his girlfriend's extended family.

She was not to remain a girlfriend long though, and I remember the beautiful wedding they had at a camp/resort in Northern New York, and how well-fed and well-entertained they kept us the whole weekend.

I remember shortly after S died, when I was lost and heartbroken, Hugo and Ellen invited me out to visit with them for a weekend. They took me to a show, we had some nice meals, and - best of all - Hugo took me ice skating in Central Park. I had skated in Rockafeller before, and wasn't impressed with the crowds. Hugo turned out to have figure skated in his youth, and still enjoyed the occasional whirl around the rink. Thus he knew the Good Spots to skate, and the times when they would be uncrowded. We skated a freestyle session outdoors, in the middle of the trees of Central Park, but the skyline of NYC looming over us.

I remember as he suddenly started aging rapidly, watching Parkinson's take over his life and rob him of his vitality, his humor, his dignity, his thoughtfulness. He battled to find the right balance of medications, many of whose side affects were worse than the disease. He battled to reclaim his life -- and he never fully succeeded.

I watched my aunt suffer every time he would get sick, or fall, or be left alone. I watched her gaze on his face with fear, knowing the disease was killing not just him but all the dreams they shared together. My heart breaks for her, knowing how much she's had robbed from her. It's not fair: partners are supposed to get to grow old together. I wish that was a rule I could keep from ever breaking.

* * *

Saturday after I learned of Hugo's death, I moped my way through an uninspired afternoon. I got a few things done, but nothing I'd planned on doing. Finally, five hours after I'd planned on starting, I got out of the house and to the gym. That perked me up some, so I decided I had enough energy to visit ConClave.

At the Con, I found lots of friends. Some gave me special hugs, because they knew of my family's loss. Some gave me normal hugs, which are just as good when they come from friends who care about you. I had lots of good conversation, most of it focused on the joyful parts of my life.

It was good to be among others. It was good afterward to go home and to crawl into bed with my most special other. Friends are what keep us sane, and we all take turns lifting one another up when it's needed. Thank God for that.

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abrokenstarr From: abrokenstarr Date: October 12th, 2010 05:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sorry for loss and your aubt's loss. He sounds like a great guy.
lintra From: lintra Date: October 12th, 2010 07:02 am (UTC) (Link)
So sorry to hear this.

I've been married 17 years now, and often find myself the person in the room married the longest. And some people look to you - which is weird when you are only 36 - for wisdom about marriage, how to stay married. When our cousin married (on our anniversary) last fall, her maid of honor cornered me for marriage advice.

"Tell me what the key to a happy marriage is," she demanded.

She didn't love my answer. I had been drinking and didn't explain it well. I said, "You've got to be willing to put up with some shit."

Marriage is so complicated, just like love. Some are short and some are long, some beat the odds for no good reason while others, for no good reason either, seem to fade out or blow up. I have finally stopped thinking of marriage as about vows and more like an evolving deal. Our deal is we each find the other hot, we can say our worst thoughts to each other and it's okay, and we try to take care of each other (rather haphazardly) while living the lives we each want to, and trying to compromise where what we want stands in opposition.

He takes good care of me. He helps me stand when I am dizzy at 1am. He keeps the burdens off at home so I can be the one focused on my career.

This got long. I had a point. I guess your story just strikes a nerve. Neither of us is super-healthy and one of us will lose the other too soon, but we've gotten to have this precious, thorny, amazing thing that not everyone gets... I find stories like the one you tell about your aunt's man very touching.
From: writerwench Date: October 12th, 2010 10:59 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm so sorry for your aunt. Hugo sounds like he was a wonderful person. Parkinson's is a pig of a disease - as you say, it's the horrible decline that is so HURTFUL to everyone.

Still, nearly 20 years of happiness is a great gift. I'm hoping I'll get about that with my Bear.

What else can you say - the pain of loss will fade a little, she'll be more able to remember the good times as time passes, but - ach, my sympathies, my sympathies.
dagibbs From: dagibbs Date: October 12th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

It was good to see you, and I'm sorry I didn't get to spend more time with you. Hopefully I'll see you at Confusion?
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