Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


The Lindroos Clan Diminshes

Over the weekend I got a message my dad left for me nearly ten days earlier. I don't know exactly how I missed it, but the bottom line is my aunt (his sister) had died rather suddenly. Though the Lindroos side of the family is fairly robust in general, my aunt had suffered with MS and leukemia among other things and there was even a point a few years ago where they thought she might be need a bone marrow donation that my dad was prepared to give. In the end they didn't need it after all. I'm not sure what exactly happened to bring about her death, just that it was sudden and, despite her illnesses, unexpected.

My aunt and her mother were like oil and water. My grandmother was a small woman with big personality. She was stern, sometimes even harsh. She was strict and not particularly sympathetic. She lived tough life, spent time in an orphanage separated from her siblings when she was young. She was not the sort of person I could envision putting up with too much high-spirited hijinx.

My aunt was 8 years older than my dad, with my uncle Jack falling somewhere in between them. JoAnn was lively and hilarious, a carouser. When I was having a particularly bad time after moving in with my father as a teen, I was sent out to Arizona to have a visit with JoAnn. She told me stories of her wild behavior, of being locked in her room by her parents only to climb out the window to get away. The notion of defying my grandparents so, my grandmother in particular but also of being so bad as to raise the ire of my generally patient and mild grandfather, I could barely conceive it.

Once JoAnn went to a party and got staggeringly drunk. Sneaking back into the house, she fell on her face and made herself a bloody mess. Limping into her room, still thinking she could hide it somehow, she leaned onto the bed only to have her arm collapse accordion-like, also broken in the fall. I was horrified, titillated, and intensely curious for more. She told me of another drunken teenage party, this time with my uncle, who made it home but passed out in the front yard, and how she and my dad (all of 8 or 9 years old) grabbed him and dragged him through the house and dumped him in his bed. The next morning found Grandma ranting about the black scuffmarks left on her floor. As my dad sarcastically chipped in, "Oh yeah, who could have left those marks that lead directly from the door to Jack's room?" She told stories of living abroad with her husband, who I don't even remember; living in Saudi Arabia where they would have booze parties with smuggled liquor and how she recklessly threw the bottles away in the trash until her husband, horrified, found out and began taking the bottles out into the dessert to be broken and buried in the sand.

My aunt so chafed at living in my grandmother's house, she eloped as girl just to get away. When she was married and returned to the house to announce it, she says my grandmother went into a fit and started screaming, "You're pregnant, you're pregnant aren't you," to which my aunt screamed back, "No, I did it to get away from YOU." Ouch.

I last saw my aunt two years ago when I made a trip to Arizona with Kate to visit shortly before my grandmother died. "It's a sign," JoAnn said at the time. One by one, in a short span of time, we'd all come out for a visit. "It's the family's last visit." Grandma did die shortly after. JoAnn admitted that she just couldn't be too broken up over it, since she'd "never gotten along with that woman."

A post-it note, faded and at least five years old, sticks my computer monitor reminding me of JoAnn's address. I think the last time I used it was to send her a wedding invitation (knowing full well her health would prohibit her from coming, but wanting her to know she was thought of and welcome). Even though our clan is scattered and contact is irregular, we're still quite diminished with her passing.


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