Almost 20 years ago, some distant family of mine came to the states to visit from Australia. As with most of my relatives on the Italian side of things, I couldn't really describe to you exactly how we're related, only that we are. Things are kind of complicated on that side; the cousins closest to me in age are actually my second cousins, for example. Anyway, I was still living at home and so was there the day that these distant relatives stopped by to visit with us: an Italian uncle, his Irish wife, and two of their children who, having grown up in Australia, had accents of their own. Watching all of these people converse with my dad, with his heavy Philly patois, was certainly an entertaining afternoon, one that never left me.
The aunt introduced to me that day was a lovely and kind woman. She gave me a beautiful bracelet, gorgeous green stones in a gold setting. I wore it for years, until it finally went, literally, to pieces. She had made such an impression on me; I was a girl who had not known much sweetness, and had certainly not known a love like she gave her children. I have never forgotten the lilt of her voice, though I never saw her again. Now I never will, for she has passed away.
Her passing says so much to me about how impressions can be made in such a short time. How just being nice to someone can touch them in ways that last a lifetime. How family means not how closely tied you are, but how you affect one another. I wish now that I had cared better for that bracelet in my youth, so I would have something to remember her by now -- but then I realize that I still remember it vividly, just as I remember her. So if I could go back and tell her anything that I never said then, it would be this: I will never forget you, though we shall never meet again.
Death is inevitable. Everything dies. But not everything is remembered. I remember you. I remember.