Momma had 5 siblings.
One is still alive.
Momma was second oldest.
My aunt Antonia "Toni" pictured on Momma's left was the oldest.
She died the Thursday before Sept. 11. I know that because I flew home on
Friday and left on the morning of Sept. 11th.
If I had stayed for her funeral, I never would have made it back to
med school on time because of the flight ban.
Momma had retired in 2001 because of my aunt.
They were going to travel together,
but then my aunt was diagnosed with esophageal cancer
and died within a year.
Momma said there was a younger sister who died as a child,
maybe less than 2 years old.
She can't remember what she died of,
Fourth in line was my Uncle Ruben;
he's the lone brother sitting in front.
I've written about him many times because
he was the father figure in my life;
the man who taught me how not to be a girl.
He died in May of 2004.
I was finishing my intern year in Chicago.
Momma had relied on him and his wife
for various things, and then he was gone, too.
She had been close to him since he had lived
with us in my grandmother's house until he got
married at the age of 35.
Next in line is my Uncle Fernando.
He's still alive and not pictured above.
He didn't make it to that reunion.
He's probably the sibling Momma was
least closest to.
Even now, they don't talk much,
but still he's her only living sibling.
Finally, was my Aunt Margarita "Maggie."
She's on Momma's right in the photo.
She lived right around the corner from my Mom's house.
Momma spent most of the holidays over at her home.
Aunt Maggie was on dialysis, and when Momma could still walk,
she'd go over to spend time with her, or she'd talk to her on the phone
Aunt Maggie died this last August.
I think that one hit Momma the hardest as she had lost
the one remaining sibling with whom she really had a relationship;
the one last person she ever really talked to.
Momma left the next day with me as planned for our
cruise trip to Alaska.
She didn't want to go to the funeral.
I know she had a heavy heart traveling, and she
didn't really talk much to my Uncle Felix or his kids after she returned.
They were upset she didn't go to the funeral, but she said she wouldn't have gone.
She'd been at my aunt's bedside when she died.
She said she'd already done her good-byes.
She declined a bit after that,
and I made the decision she had to come live with me.
But I know she misses her family,
and she thinks of her siblings often.