Thursday, April 19, 2012

Funeral Flowers & Ancestry

Uncle Bob called tonight. He received the note and picture of Connor and Sierra in their Easter outfits. He mentioned that Sierra looked bigger. I had noticed the same thing, but it wasn't until I was writing and thinking about all the fraternal twins in my family that something else came to mind.

Fraternal twins run in my family, the Cornwell side of the family. Doral and Dorothy, Carol and Cary, and Connor and Sierra. Fraternal twins skipped my generation, but we had lots of boys, which is also strange for our family since a plethora of girls tend to be the norm.

The female twin is always dominant in every case, and I could go back generations and find the same thing. It's sort of a family legend Great Grandma Cornwell, the corncob pipe smoking matriarch of the Cornwell clan when I was a child, imparted to me when we would visit.

Doral died at 10 months from a congenital heart defect and pneumonia, the same pneumonia that took his mother, Dad's mother. Cary was born with his brain visible beneath a thin membrane that separated his brain from the outside world; the skull had not completely formed on that side of his head. Cary was mentally retarded and had seizures all his life. Carol was and is quite robust. Connor, my son David Scott's child, died this week from unknown causes. The ME's report was inconclusive, no attributable cause of death -- but they're still testing.

As I was writing about this family legacy, I suddenly realized that the males in fraternal twins in my family do not fare well. Females have been dominant in numbers as well as in fraternal twin births and that has not changed. Is there something in the genes I passed to my son and he passed to Connor that caused his death? Am I the reason he's dead?

These are the things that pass as thoughts right now. I want to find a reason for my grandson's death. I need to find out why or how his young life was cut short. We all want to know why.

All the females in my father's family are dominant and have been dominant for centuries. There is also a legacy of female shamans from our Cherokee heritage, and a few fraternal twins in that ancestry as well. We females are survivors and most of us are and have been gifted.

Until there are answers, all this is conjecture, and bloody-minded conjecture at that. I sit here and wonder why I am still alive and my sweet grandson dead. I will never understand it, especially with so many questions left unanswered, and so I go down dark paths ready to take the stroke that will scythe me down if it comes. It won't bring Connor back nor will it change anything.

I bought flowers for Connor's funeral this evening. As I looked through all the pages of sprays, wreaths, casket covers, and arrangements, the smell of funeral flowers fills my nostrils. Every funeral I have attended in my life comes back to me in vivid memory. The overpowering reek of dying flowers, the clash of perfumes and colognes and after shave, the sights and sounds of grief and pressured laughter as people move farther and farther from the casket, turning their backs, putting objects, people, and distance between themselves and the deceased.

David Scott told me last night that when he went to Mom's funeral he didn't get closer than 3 feet to the casket. "She didn't look like Grandma," he said. I filled the heavy silence with a joke. "Well, then you didn't get your York peppermint patty from Mom's coffin." I could hear his disbelief and shock. Candy from a dead woman, and they were the rest of her candies. She was on a York peppermint patty kick at the time. She always changed her candy obsession, but never gave up the junk food or the candy.

How will he be able to bring himself to get close to Connor's casket? He will have to find the strength somewhere because Sierra and Alanna will be at the funeral. It's the whole point of an open casket. He will have to be strong, to override his fear and pain, and bring them to the casket so they can see Connor and know, at least as far as their 2- and 3-year-old minds can comprehend, the meaning of death and why Connor will never come home. How much will they understand? Whatever it is, we will not shield them and there is no way for anyone to go and buy a Connor that looks as close to the original as possible so Sierra and Alanna won't know the real Connor is dead. Oh, how I wish they did not have to see death and know it so soon.

What I understand is that this family, my family, is hard on males, especially when they are one of a set of twins. What could I have done to prevent his death? What could anyone have done?

I am tilting at spiked windmills knowing that it is a hopeless fight and yet I tilt on, confused, sad, and empty with a Connor-shaped hole in my heart.

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