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The end of the line, for her


I don’t remember if I told you about an elderly relative of mine. She is many centuries old. We aliens live a long time, but she’s lived longer than the norm. She’s blowing the curve, really. But everyone reaches the end of the line, and she’s near the end of hers.

I have not spoken to her in decades. Long ago, she gave me an order which I declined. She never spoke to me again. Once I defied her authority, she had no use for me anymore. I was dead to her. It was a useful experience for me. It taught me not to suborn my own goals to someone else’s, regardless of their familial authority. If a family member feels that strongly about controlling you, their motivation is more likely selfish than altruistic.

Lately, another relative who was similarly shunned contacted relative #1 after a few decades of silence. Relative #2 found relative #1 in reasonable health for relative #1’s advanced age, but relative #1’s memory is fading along with her eyesight. Relative #1 couldn’t even remember why she had ostracized me or relative #2. Relative #2 and I found that amusing.

Relative #2 feels sorry for relative #1, and feels obligated to spend time with relative #1 in her last days. In all practicality, though, that will not happen, due to the great distances involved for them. Relative #1 actually asked about me, said relative #2. That’s nice, I said.

I feel no desire to see relative #1 before she passes into the next life, so I am spared the discomforting sense of obligation that relative #2 feels. The time has long passed since having a relationship with relative #1 mattered. And even if either relative #2 or I bothered to spend time with relative #1 in her remaining hours, relative #1 probably would not remember it the next day.

I think relative #2 envies my relaxed attitude toward relative #1’s impending death.

Neither of us will spend time with relative #1 before her death, but I’m going to feel better about it.

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