A few days ago we received word that my mother's sister died. It felt life altering in some small way. She is the last of her generation in the family.
Aunt Elaine was my mother's only sibling. They grew up in the area around Buffalo where my grandfather was, at first, a teacher, but later (during the depression) worked for the postal service, sorting Mail on trains. Mom met Dad in college and moved to East Hampton, and her Elaine married a fellow "up-stater" and settled into a little house in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca.
As their lives developed, Mom had four children, the second of which was me, who carries Elaine's name. Elaine was unable to have children and they spent all their holidays and vacations here in East Hampton, where my grandparents moved after Grandpa retired. It must have been difficult for Elaine to have her entire family live so far away-they spent about 12 hours on the road every trip back in the late '50s and early '60s (when road travel was not quite as easy as it is now). They loved being here at Christmas, enjoying the chaos of family.
My uncle died about twenty years ago now, and Elaine spent the last years of her life in a nursing home. Despite pleas from Mom, she would never consider moving here. Her life was upstate.
I last saw Elaine three years ago when we went up to clean out her house so it could be sold. She was still feisty and spry then, although clearly not able to live alone. Knowing she's gone makes be feel about adrift. All ties to my mother, to her chi,shoot, to her history....gone now. And now, we truly are the elders of the family...