life in and around NYC is insane

Monday, April 5, 2010

when did you realize you were an adult?

when did you inexorably cross from childhood into adulthood? was it a gradual process, or was there some triggering event that made you say "I'm a grown up now"?

for me, it was the night my aunt died.

I was 31 at the time, with all the indicia of being an adult -- I was married and the mother of a 6 month old daughter, and was working full-time as an associate in a law firm.

the night my aunt died ... I was the one who was in charge, I was the one other adult members of my family relied upon. and that's what made the difference.

19 years later, I remember so many of the details. It was the weekend that Drew and Jen and I moved out of our one-bedroom apartment and into a two-bedroom a few blocks away. It was a chaotic move, we didn't hire a moving company but had a few friends help us pack and move everything ourselves. We'd managed to get everything into the new apartment, but hadn't really begun to unpack. We were exhausted, our nerves were frayed...

and my Aunt B called me to say that something was terribly wrong with her sister, my Aunt E, and could I come over right away?

let me backtrack by telling you that B and E are my mother's sisters. they, and my grandmother (who was in her 90's at the time) lived in the same neighborhood as I did, and in fact my aunts were taking care of Jen every day while Drew and I were at work. E had a lot of medical issues going on, she had high blood pressure that was uncontrolled even with medication, and everyone was very concerned about her health. B, on the other hand, was physically healthy but was being treated for a severe psychiatric disorder -- and one of her "issues" was being able to take care of herself instead of relying on others to take care of her.

From the information B gave me over the phone I realized things were very serious. I think a part of me realized E was dead even before I got to the apartment. It became a certainty when I opened her bedrom door and saw her lying on the bed. I couldn't say so, though, not with Aunt B and my grandmother. I had to go through the motions of calling 911, and allowing the paramedics to make that call. and then I had to make all the other calls -- to my aunt's doctor so that he could sign the death certificate, to the funeral home, etc., while trying to hold it togehter not just for myself, but for my grandmother and Aunt B. It wasn't until many hours later that I was able to track down my parents -- they'd gone out for the evening.

Hours later, when my parent sarrived at my aunt's house, I relinquished control of the situation to them...

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

My grown up moment was when I got the call from my uncle that my dad had a fatal heart attack while on the job.

My parents were divorced, so as a 24 year old newlywed, it was up to me to make all the funeral plans and get all the financial affairs in order.

That was definitely a situation that made me realize I was NOT a kid anymore.

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