Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner

Years went by when my life and Mike's crossed intermittently. I was going to college for an insane length of time - started at 18, got my degree at 29 - almost 30. I was going to forget the graduation ceremony, feeling it was unnecessary, but I had the sense to realize that it mattered to my family. That is, my father and stepmother. It didn't occur to me that anyone else might want to come. They might have if they'd known, and I don't recall letting anyone know. I probably got those announcements, though. I am almost certain that I did. So they probably would have known. But just as I have not traveled to others' graduations, so it is that nobody else traveled to mine.

My friend Dorothy is deep inside a family that celebrates everything. To me it sounds almost unreal or superreal, maybe. I do not have that kind of family. It makes me feel guilty at times that we do so little together. Yet I am used to it and it would feel funny if we suddenly made big deals about birthdays and graduations and weddings.

As adults, just recently we have started to make bigger deals of these things. In the past, if I got an invitation to a relative's wedding far away, I would think about sending a card and gift, but would set the invitation aside and forget to do so. Lately I have made a point of finding out about birthdays and anniversaries and am sending cards religiously. Sometimes a few of us will get together and buy a nice gift. It's sporadic but it's a start. Some years ago I realized that in general we are getting closer to each other as we get older. So many families grow apart. We did grow apart, but now we are making real efforts to grow together in ways we didn't know before.

In 1994, when my father died, we four Lautner children got together to plan the funeral. The choice of church and priest was his wife's, who was a Catholic, who somehow was able to coerce a Catholic service for a man who was not of that faith. I understand it was mainly a matter of money. The four of us, though, or was it just the sisters? - planned the sequence of events. I chose the music. My sister Mary designed and printed the "programs". We arranged for a "reception" afterwards, where we met with and talked to many people who knew and cared for our father. I spoke about my father in front of the church, and I wore bright colors. I remembered that he hated black, hated depressing things, and I thought he would want that.

In 1995, when my mother died, we were seasoned funeral planners and we took this one on fully. I interviewed all of my siblings, asking what was special to each about our mother. The answers revealed that she was a different mother to each of us. Stunningly different, except for some common experiences. I think she taught each of us how to make a martini. She had two of those, complete with green pimiento-stuffed olives, every evening before dinner. We planned her funeral fully. Again I selected the music, and I spoke about her. I wrote her obituary, which the local paper refused to print. They print only the bare facts, no elaboration. So my sister Cathy chose, at her own expense, to pay to have my obit published "in memoriam". That is one of my fondest memories, that she did that for me and for our mother.

I don't remember Mike's involvement at this time either. Was he there? I think so. Why can't I remember? I remember asking him about her and his telling me about how she designed and made kites with him, flew them in Los Angeles, in Griffith Park, how they won some awards for the kites. He must have been there.

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