Growing up, the elders of my family were strong women.
My paternal grandma and her two sisters, who lived within walking distance of each others houses and were never apart for long.
My gran is a woman of strong faith, and she regularly gently preaches to anyone within earshot. she is the sort of christian all christians should be. she is humble, forgiving, loving and kind. and has a wicked sense of humour, she sometimes tells my atheist uncles how much god loves them just to troll them.
Her sisters have always been my wild aunts. They listen to good music, and consistently explored, learned and most of all partied riotously into their wrinkles and hip replacements.
All three are intelligent, have gone through huge amounts of hardship and loss and come out the other side with more life than anyone else i know can muster up.
I am not having children myself, but if i did then these are the people i would want to show to that child.
And now they are being cruelly broken. A nightmare from my childhood reaches out of my dreams and strangles them. My gran is fading as her organs fail through having to process her prescriptions. One of my aunts has Alzheimers and can no longer live independently, so has moved away from the trio to live with her son. The other has paranoid dementia, which is horribly unjust as she sacrificed the prime of her life caring for two people with dementia, and she has no children to look after her. She is alone and a world away, her two best friends are slipping beyond her reach.
These were, all my life, not old ladies. These were ladies who just happened to be old. They were made of iron.
It is harder to accept that time is killing their minds and bodies than it would be for them to meet an untimely end. Its like someone has written an incredibly poor ending to an otherwise amazing book. It doesn’t fit. It is wrong and unjust. And normal, and inescapable.
The next time I see them will probably be the first time I attend funerals. Growing up, I wanted to be half as awesome as they were, I only hope I can live up to them.