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April 5, 2004

Closing a Family Century

I've been remiss in blogging these last few weeks. Too much travel. Too much on my plate. Yadda yadda yadda. But I'm back.

This is a picture of Ellen Theresa St. John and Richard Scadden on their wedding day in 1904. Over the 28 years of their marriage they had 12 kids including my mother and last month the last of them died. My Aunt Winifred was 92 years old and was always the most memorable of my aunts. My grandmother once told my mother that Winnie would be the last to go because she was so mean. She did have a sharp tongue that she used to keep the rest of the family in line, and a strong set of opinions to go with it. But she was also the most interesting of the bunch and even late in life when she was housebound she managed to keep an entourage of neighbors who came over regularly and enjoyed her company.

Aunt Win's passing impacts me because she named me as executor of her estate... which was a surprise to me since we hadn't spoken in two or three years. Our last conversation ended with her biting my head off because we weren't raising Alex as a Catholic (or as anything but a good human for that matter). She hung up on me and I never called back. I thought for sure that I was out of the will as her final handler but she never got around to changing it. Now I've got the long distance job of settling her bills, selling her house, and distributing what's left to Alex and seven of his cousins. That meant spending spring break in Florida racing against time to clean up the house, get unsaleable stuff off to charities, gather up the pictures and photo albums, and find a realtor all in three days.

Somehow I managed to get it all done. And so the span of Ellen and Richard and their twelve kids has come to a close an even hundred years after their wedding. My cousins and I are on our own to make our own mistakes and live our own stories.