Tuesday, August 28, 2007


Today is my aunt Gwen's birthday. Gwendolyn K. Bennett is the baby of her siblings - the babiest baby sister to my mom (the oldest). She was born late enough in the game that she was only a few years older than my older brother.

They grew up like brother and sister.

Since she was still young when her siblings started having children, she was the default babysitter. I never remember a time when she resented that.

(Not that we never got on her nerves, or that she never "chastised" us).

Growing up, she was the favorite aunt. Mostly because she let us get away with the most stuff and had the most patience for our shenanigans...

Actually, she played a large part in much of said shenanigans - I don't see how there's anybody in my generation of my mother's side who's sense of humor was not greatly influenced by her.

One morning during the second semester of my first year of college, I was awakened by a call from my mother saying that Gwen had died.

Two weeks after her death, my grandmother - a woman who'd made a career of caring for the infirm - had a stroke, became an invalid, and passed away two weeks shy of a year of the anniversary of her youngest child's death.

The death of my aunt Gwen led to a painful, painful time in my family.

My mother's family, which to me was the epitome of togetherness, for whom "too much fun" was an impossibility -

(ask us about Bennettball, and writhe in your jealousy)

- fell apart; fractured by blame, guilt, pride....(sigh)

toppled by the departure of its bookends.

I came to the following conclusion sometime within the past year, I think, but I wanted to wait until this day to declare it in/to the universe:

I love my Aunt Gwen. I miss my K. I laid my head and cried in my sister's lap for the first time since I was a small, small child at her funeral. I cried again days later with guilt over not having had more to say to her the last time we spoke. Perhaps if I'd said something cheerful, encouraging to her, she would have seen fit to stay with us.

In the past this day has reminded some people I love of what they lost.

From now on, I plan to use this day to celebrate what we had, have or may....WILL have. I will invoke it as a means of healing in my family. And I promise the tears I cry as I write this sentence will be last I'll shed in connection with pain from her loss.

And this is not to say that she was or is any more special that anyone in my family or that my family has lost....

Just that I will use her name on this day as a symbol of happiness. Of joy. 'Cuz that's the way I remember her.

And when I invoke this day, I'm invoking the spirits of both of my Grandmother Annies, Bobby, Marie, Garrett, Garrett Jr., Punkin, Angelique....

And I encourage everyone in my family to invoke the names of someone or one's as a symbol for themselves...

And I'm going to spend the day sayin' "happy birthday" to her.

And, after that, I'm going to holler it everytime something exceptionally good happens...for the times since she's been gone and I wanted to share a moment with her.

And I give exactly three quarters of a hot damn about what anybody in earshot thinks of it.


Happy Birthday, Gwen.

I miss your nose, too. I wanna play with my mole.


  1. Anonymous9:57 AM

    thank you for sharing this, carsey.

  2. Cousin, no one could have said it better. Thank you for honoring our family. (and for making me cry when I didn't want to today.)

    Love always bro.


  3. Anonymous4:22 PM

    for your k.

    she wasn’t mine
    but I hold her as dear
    as if she were

    didn’t grieve her then
    but miss her now
    with you

    will never know her laugh, her grin
    but celebrate her
    in my own

    i grab your nose, and love it
    for her,
    though it brings me joy

    the marvel you found in her
    is the delight she found
    in having you

    to struggle her loss
    is to champion her being
    having been

    been here
    been here with you
    been here with you just as you are,
    just as you are. because of her.
    you are, because she was.
    she is, because you are.
    for her.

  4. you could have just chosen to share this with those with whom you share a bloodline, but i am thankful that you included your friends. i consider you family, and i appreciate the fact that we are still a part of each other's lives.

    what you have shared is a wonderful idea!

    love 'ya, man...

  5. Robert11:25 PM

    Gwen....the name brings about emotions,memories and visons of the past. These memories make me smile make me laugh and even cry. When I think of her I can"t help but think of all that she did for me or rather for us.Gwen and I were like brother and sister and at times like a two headed coin because where she was I was.We shared a lot together even pain heck we even broke the same arm. Speakin of pain on the day she left us I knew somthing wasn't right I had been in pain all day long. I thought it was fatigue from moving and needed to rest, but sleep would not come and no pain medicine gave me comfort. It was a pain I'd had many times that often led to a phone call from Gwen or I'd call her. Usually when I had a headache she had one,a sore joint we both had one. But on this day it was severe enough to stop me in my tracks, later my cousin came over to give me the news that explained it all.As I earned of what happened I realized I was feeling the pain she felt and the pain of her passing.Life hasn"t been the same without you K and I miss you more than I can say. I know that you and Bobby and Annie B and Mother dear are watching me and I hope somehow I've made you proud. Man I'd give anything Gwen to hear you call me beam pole just one more time. Happy Birthday K I shall always Love you. Robert

  6. Family is like a garden that we pass by daily and never pick from its lush vines or fragrant petals while its season is before us, but we often crave in winter months. We are so blessed to have such creativity, talent, beauty, brains and humility in our family. So me us have a few of these traits, but u got em' all. I love u cuz. Ant.

  7. Barb (this boy's mama)2:30 PM

    her birthday was 8/27/2007. i awoke around 12:35 a.m. that day and for about an hour i was very angry. i couldn't remember if it was about something i had dreamed or what and then i heard creaping noisess in her bedroom upstairs and shot wide awake, remembering that it was her birthday. cried a little and went back to sleep. heard tapping a little while later at about 6:00 AM and got really scared. it was a red cardinal hitting the brass kickplate on the front entry door. he or she was pecking at a bird (its reflection) in the kick plate. stupid thing would fly away when i opened the door but return to its pecking just as soon as i closed the door. strangely it reminded me of GWEN during one of her rebellious times. how very odd. how did you happen to remember that it was her birthday. she's not "keeping you straight" too is she. she's my personal remembrall (HPCOS)!


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