We never know what we’ve got, who we know, just how good we have it, until we loose it. We bitch and complain (and I am just as guilty as anyone else reading this) about how something doesn’t work. Take my computer. When it goes on the fritz, I take a fit. Partly because the computer has become such an integral part of my life, containing all my photographs and videos of friends, relatives and cats, lesson plans, budgeting information, student scores, access to internet, well, the list goes on. When that is gone, I feel alone, isolated, cut off from the world!
My scooter. I keep this vehicle in tip top running shape. I run around Tainan area, spending about 300nt in gas a week (about $10 Cdn), travelling between 700-1000km a week! Yes, I do! But when something goes wrong, I curse and swear that the damn thing doesn’t work, and trying to get it repaired, the cost of the repair… In the end, I sit back, take a couple of deep breaths, and try to remember all the good times that this scooter has given me. It’s allowed me to get from class to class, around Tainan County on day trips, Kao-hsiung, and even a weekend in Tai-chung a couple of years ago. This scooter has been through a lot, and it has been a good friend for the past 8 years.
My cats. The hiss and growl at each other, run around and knock things over, piss all over my desk because I didn’t feed them on time. But again, I sit back, take a deep breath, and realize just how much these little creatures have meant to me. For the exception of Simba, who came to me as a two-year-old cat, the others I have raised since they were kittens. The love me, unconditionally (well, almost), they sleep with me, sit on my lap and purr, and help me to find calm in a hectic day. The snuggle up to me at night, keeping me warm in the winter, but just letting me know that they love me.
You’re probably wondering where all this is leading. Well, let’s see if I can turn this into what I’m really wanting to write about today.
When I was younger, still living at home, for a few summers my parents allowed me to spend a few weeks at my grandmother’s house. No one was more excited about this than me. I’m not sure grandma cherished the thought of having a teenager running around her house again, but I got the feeling that she really enjoyed this time as much as I did. When my parents would come back a week or two later to take me home, I remember feeling devastated. Again, sitting back and remembering, I know that I couldn’t spend my life there. I had a home, brothers and sisters, a family, school to start.
My grandmother taught me a lot. She taught me that I can do things on my own. Something that was obviously passed down to her kids (dad, Harry, Cathy, and Florence), because I put some of that into my daily use. There is nothing that I won’t at least try to do myself. At the same token, I can also realize when the task is too big for me to do alone, and I need the help of others. She taught me how to knit. Okay, maybe a skill I would never use, but I must say, I have made some pretty damn fine sweaters over my lifetime.
She showed me how to repair electrical appliances. She allowed me to take apart an old clock and got it working again. She was also patient with me, and allowed me to make mistakes, so I would learn from them. When grandma passed away a few years (a few, a LOT) ago, I was heartbroken. One of the nicest people, besides being my grandmother, was no longer in my life. At the time, for me, it was all a bit weird. I remember not crying about it. I remember going to her funeral. I was one of the pallbearers. The only grandchild to be a pallbearer. Later on, at Uncle Harry’s home in Trowbridge (let’s hope my memory is correct), the children (dad, Harry, Cathy, and Flossy) were all called in for the will reading. I was also asked to join them, as I was mentioned in the will.
I remember the stunned looks on some of my cousins and siblings. Why was I going in for the reading? No other grandchild was asked in. Once in the room, it was mentioned to me that I had been willed a couple of things from grandma. Granted, they weren’t expensive items, and in fact, they weren’t even what would be considered a treasure. They were a couple of things that grandma had noticed, that I liked during my visits with her. The other thing that was told to me, was that I was the oldest JACKLIN grandchild. Sure, I have four older cousins, but they are not JACKLIN. This was something that I never really thought about, and it never really occurred to me until that moment.
Upon many of these summer visits to grandma’s house, we’d always, several times a week in fact, get together with my relatives. The first couple of summers, grandma lived in Brussels, so it was a trip into Listowel to visit with my older aunt and her family, Aunt Flossy. Her name is actually Florence, but we always called her Flossy.
Aunt Flossy was the epitome of an aunt. She was big-hearted, loud, fair, and just. She didn’t treat me any different than she treated her own two children, Mike and Beth. Mike and Beth are fairly close to my age, Beth being a month older I believe, and Mike a year younger. However, during these visits, even though I was not ‘technically’ part of their family, I was accepted as family and treated as such. I think, for the most part, I behaved myself, so I was never punished! Hahaha.
I remember Aunt Flossy had a couple or three dogs. The image burned in my head is of her carrying at least one of these dogs. Now, you must understand that I am not much of a dog person, I’m definitely a cat person. These little dogs loved her, and protected her in much the same way Eloise does with me. I remember Aunt Flossy’s hearty laughter. I remember that she and Uncle Gord were always, in my opinion, in a good mood. Yes, she got riled up sometimes, but then who doesn’t?
I’ve been away in Taiwan going on 9 years. I’ve been away from my family for about 12 years. I haven’t seen my relatives for at least that amount of time. When I got reconnected with them through Mike (Flossy’s son) and Facebook back in February, it was a chance to get to ‘see’ everyone again. Wow, people had changed. The images I had in my head, and the fact that 10 years has zipped by in a whisper, made all these pictures almost unbelievable.
There was one picture in particular, Mike had on his profile on Facebook. There were many actually, but the one that really stood out, was during a family gathering of the Delions and Jacklins. There was a picture of the whole Delion family, Flossy, Gord and their kids. Wow, I hardly recognized some of them. And, in particular, Aunt Flossy. She was not at all the same person that I had etched in my mind. Sure, I figured she’d have a few more gray hairs, but it was different.
I was speaking with my father yesterday about Flossy. She is presently, and has been in hospital for a while now. At least a month, if not longer. Since being reconnected with the family, I get ad hoc reports of how she’s doing. Dad had mentioned that Flossy had been diagnosed with cancer a few years back. My first thought was that, to my knowledge, she had never smoked. We always associate cancer with smoking. Apparently she had, but had quit long before my memory comes into effect.
Nonetheless, after several trips from Listowel to London for cancer treatment, it was told to her that the cancer was too extensive. I obviously had not known or heard about any of this in the past 10 or so years. Now, the picture of her in Mike’s album made sense. After several treatments, in and out of hospital, it was wearing away at her. And now, she’s in hospital, likely to not make it much longer.
I am so sad that I cannot be there, but what can I do? I am half-way around the world, teaching in Taiwan. The trip back would take a day. By then, what? Dad has told me that she doesn’t really recognize anyone or talk or eat. She’s on heavy medications to relieve any pain she’s in, and it’s now, just a matter of time. The people that really should be with her (brothers, sister, husband, children) are all there. Yes, I am just a nephew. Personally, and please don’t hate me for this, I want to remember her the way I have in my mind.
I have great memories of her. I have memories of her vitality, love of life, caring attitude, and her getting pissed off! Sorry, but I these are the things that made Aunt Flossy who she was. I will always hold dear to my heart, the time I got to spend with her. I am sorry that I didn’t get the chance to see her in the past 10 years, and for that, I do hope she forgives me. I want to remember the good things about her, not the pain and suffering. I can’t imagine what her family is going through, but like grandma, one day I will cry over her loss.
But crying because she is not in my life any longer, is selfish. I think that, as with my memories of grandma, remembering their life, rather than their passing, is more important. No, I do not remember exactly when grandma passed away. I can get that information, but I don’t want to remember it. Not that it makes me sad (which it does), but that I want to remember all the fun, the good times, the family gatherings, the laughter, the ‘joie de vivre’, that both grandma and Flossy had and shared.
It has been relayed to me that Flossy has requested no funeral, no service, no flowers. Fair enough. And I fully accept and understand her reasons. Therefore, I have decided to write this blog today in her memory. At writing, as far as I know, she is still in hospital. I know she will never get a chance to read this blog.
To everyone back home, and in particular, Uncle Harry, Aunt Cathy, dad, Uncle Gord, Bob, Kim, Barry, Randy, Mike, and Beth, my deepest and most heartfelt sympathies are with you. I truly do wish I could be there, but alas, it is not to be. Yes, it will be a sad day when aunt/mom/wife/grandmother passes, but please, remember the good things. Keep that in your heart and mind.
Florence (Flossy) was a magnificent person. She was what I believe, an aunt to be. Half grandparent, half parent! I will always remember her laughter, her generosity, her spirit… And as time goes on, so will you.
Goodbye Aunt Flossy. I am really happy and proud to have had you be a part of my life. I will never forget you!
P.S.: At approximately 10:20am, March 31, 2010, Taiwan time, my father told me that Aunt Flossy had passed away.
This obituary has been posted on Mike Delion’s Facebook profile. I would like to thank Mike for allowing me attach it to my blog.
Today at 2:22pm
Delion, Florence Lillian (Jacklin) of Listowel after a fearless battle with cancer in her 74th year at Listowel Memorial Hospital Tuesday, March 30, 2010. Survived by her husband Gordon, her children; Bob (Alice) of Salt Spring Island, BC, Kim (Ross) of Lantzville, BC, Barry of New Westminster BC, Randy (Beverly) of Calgary, AB, Beth and Mike (Kevin) of Kitchener. She is also survived by her brothers, Harry (Mary Ellen) Jacklin of Newry, Bill (Betty) Jacklin, of Huron Park and her sister, Cathy Widmeyer of Waterloo. Florence was a loving Grandma to Sarah (Ryan), Austin, Emily, Gavin, Curtis and Natalie. A Special Aunt of many nieces and nephews. Mom held a place in her heart for Ilona and her family, and of course, Trudy, who shall miss her most. Florence was predeceased by her parents, Harold and Marie Jacklin, one brother, Edward, and by her in laws, Harry and Elizabeth Delion, her brother in law, Harry and sister in law Marg Dixon.
At Florence’s request, there will be no visitation or funeral. Cremation will follow. A celebration of her life memorial will be held at Trowbridge United Church hall at a later date. Arrangements entrusted to Schimanski Family Funeral Home of Brussels. Donations to North Perth Community Hospice and Relay for Life in her memory would be appreciated by the family.