We eat a light breakfast in the dining room and I meet some of Aunt Lou’s friends, including Lydia Hewitt, who says she was my dad’s 4th grade teacher at Wheaton. How does she remember him? “Sad” and “disturbed” are the only words she comes up with. She remembers something about him being separated from his mother while she was sick with cancer.
We watch the Macy’s parade on TV and look at some old pictures. She only has a few, but they are high quality portraits. I get her to talk a bit about her trip around the world with Uncle Bill, but she is reticent. She seems singularly focused on joining Uncle Bill in heaven. I wonder what it must be like to fully believe in and expect such a reunion and ultimate destination? Unable to even imagine such a state, it seems unlikely I’ll ever reach it myself.
Nerissa never calls. The number where I contacted her before is not responding.
At noon we go down to the cafe for our Thankgiving dinner. There is a flurry of activity at first, then it’s just us and a woman in a wheelchair by herself. I try to think of all the relatives we have in common and what they might be doing today, but I can’t seem to perk Aunt Lou’s interest. We barely keep the conversation going. It’s like this through the rest of the day. We take a nap, then watch a sermon on TV. I think it might be a rerun of a sermon I watched out of curiosity as a child. The tired old grain-of-sand-on-the-beach metaphor for eternity. The Golden Rule, presented at its simplest and least paradoxical levels. And always that tacit assumption of the bible as the sole source of truth. Every Christian evangelist I’ve heard a message from on this trip has assumed that I accept this. And so they all miss their mark and their messages bounce off of me, meaning nothing. They’re baiting their hook with fish and trying to catch an anteater. I go to bed without asking Aunt Lou the things I’d really like to know, leaving her to cope with her own struggles and not with mine.