When Relatives Die They Become Ancestors

One of my aunties is dying in a hospital bed in the medical metropolis of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. The hospital is only two hours from the Twin Cities, where she lives, but it is likely that she will never come home again, certainly not as she left it, sick and scared.

It is hard on the family. We love her dearly.

For much of my life, I’ve known her as my uncle’s third wife. She was a quiet woman with a ready smile and, according to my uncle, a steadfast heart. She’s the mother of my cousins, a good one, if their gentle care, endless tears, and their regrets are any indication. Her sickness — cancer that began in her gall bladder and was not diagnosed until it had metastasized into her liver — turned her soft skin into a dull shade of turmeric, and caused itching all over her body. This is our family’s second deadly encounter with cancer; my oldest auntie died from it four years ago.

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