The Elephant Dances Flamenco

One of our family members died over the weekend. The unmentionable elephant now stands in our room. The current D version of C. We believe my father-in-law was vaccinated, since he was in a group residence (Update 9/2/21: His medical records show he was not vaccinated). He had asthma and a weakened immune system from his intemperance. Those made the delta infection deadly for my husband’s father, Gene, at 90 years of age. We were estranged and did not know he was ill. The call from the hospital to ask us to make mortuary arrangements was quite a shock.

(Sorry for the repeat dear subscribers, it seems that using the name of the pandemic in the title as I did this morning eliminates an article from the search engines. A bit odd how that happened.)

My husband’s very resourceful sister is taking care of the transfer arrangements. I helped her as much as I could with researching the businesses to perform the needed services. We are lucky that their stepbrother stayed in touch with their dad until the end. Even so, our world is shaken. We’re still reeling. I’d like to write a poem. I will by the time we have a Zoom funeral service this fall. But I need to stop moving for a moment for my muse to find me.

If I were to describe my father-in-law Gene in under 50 words: brother, husband, father and grandfather, stepfather and stepgrandfather, architect who believed affordable housing should be beautiful, seismic retrofitter of historic buildings (Bear Flag Rebellion location), gifted carpenter, jazz connoisseur, good with technology, environmentalist, xeriscape gardener, art lover, fiction and nonfiction reader, curious, artistic, kind and generous at the core.

Portraits of Gene and family are below. I do like taking photos as I believe you know. I took this shot of Gene with Evan and his sister in 2017. Sadly, that visit to California was the last time we saw Evan’s father.

Evan’s sister, Gene, and Evan Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

More than a decade ago, Gene and Evan’s stepmother Barbara made a trip to Madison; a very happy one. Eagle* was about six months old and loved meeting Grandma Barbara, Grandpa Gene and Aunt Lois. We had a little lunch party on our back porch.

Gene and Evan Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Gene was an incredible photographer. He suggested the angle for the photo below. The joy is pure them; “Eagle” and Grandpa Gene together for the very first time.

Gene and “Eagle” Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Parting family shot, Wedells and a Cuningham (me).

Wedell Family Photo: Camera Timer

I’m so glad Gene taught Evan to love jazz, design, and art. I thank Gene for the gifts of Evan and “Eagle” in my life.

Please take care, the pandemic danger is not over yet.

¡Viva Gene! –Rebecca

(*Eagle is a pseudonym I use to protect our child’s privacy.)

Rebecca Cuningham

33 thoughts on “The Elephant Dances Flamenco

  1. So sorry to hear of your loss. Condolences to you, Evan, Eagle and all your family. Such a difficult time and way to lose a loved one. We burrow in, grieve — each in our particular way. Strength and love to you all. Janice

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    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am so sorry, Rebecca. You’ve written a beautiful tribute to Gene even though there was an estrangement there. Many times there are regrets and guilt after a death when family members have drifted apart. I hope that will not be the case for Evan. Your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. How neat that Gene pursued affordable housing and retrofitted an historic building, as well as xeriscape gardening!
    Ah yes, the danger is not over …
    (More later on the challenges of familial life and death).

    Liked by 1 person

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