Monday, August 21, 2006

...a friend of my family died Sunday. She was a salty, lonesome sad person, but one I liked very much for her determination to live life on her own terms. My folks were probably the only genuine friends she ever had. She was roughly late 60s , early 70s, not old, but was a heavy drinker in years past, and a lifetime chain smoker, and those habits coupled with poor diet are what I am sure were the cause of her early demise. She looked much older than she should have. Apparently one of her kidneys stopped functioning some time ago and was absorbed into her body, leaving no evidence it ever had been there.

She never married, never had children, and I don't know of her ever having had a romantic relationship. She was like a 70 year old tomboy, tougher than a pine knot and a formidable foe, if the situation demanded. I think her father was violent and abusive, and that she never recovered from the cruelty of that meanness. She insulated herself from people by keeping her distance with a ready arsenal of the quills that are the stock in trade of emotional porcupines the world over.

She would come to my dad's shop and sit around for hours and talk to dad or folks who came in for car repair. Sometimes I'd call dad there and she'd answer the phone. I know she used to be a pilot, possibly a stunt pilot. She was a hard person to know, perhaps because she learned being vulnerable to other people was a dangerous thing to do. I'm just glad that at the end of the day she had in my parents and particularly my dad, a friend who was loving and supportive rather than dealing out judgment - someone to take her at face value and simply respect her as a human being, expecting nothing in return.

I find myself wishing I had taken more time to get to know her, to find out what exactly she did with airplanes-- just to know what she did in all the stages of her life. I know she struggled, but I think hearing about her journey would have been very interesting. I'm sad for her isolation, for her aloneness, but I'm glad that I had a chance to know her at least a little. Like I said, I have a great admiration for the people who set out in a new direction and blaze their own trail.

There won't be a funeral service for her. Her body won't be buried because she donated it to a local medical research facility. No family would come and the only friends being my folks, my siblings and me, there won't be a funeral. Mom suggested we could get together for dinner and just remember her that way. I think that's a lovely idea.

So, in some small way, this is my tribute to her, with respect, admiration, and yes, a little sadness for the pain life afforded her. God bless Rita Tittle.


David Amulet said...

I like that idea--a small gathering to celebrate her life without the "pressure" and awkwardness of a funeral that nobody comes to. Well done.

-- david

Dick said...

It sounds like she did what she wanted too though.
Rest in peace Ms. Tittle.

phlegmfatale said...

david amulet - yeah - I think it's so much better that way, actually, in a case like this.

big dick - Yeah, she did that. It makes you wonder how many mean parents ruin a person's entire life. How a brutally abusive person can make their children afraid to ever be vulnerable to another person again. Really sad.

Joe said...

God Bless Rita Tittle indeed.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm glad you are making this tribute to her. It sounds like she would have appreciated it.

starbender said...

What a beautiful post! ]
You have done her a great honor,
I'm sure she will never forget your family!

Z said...

That was a lovely tribute to Rita Tittle. That dinner idea sounds like a wonderful thing to do. I always think that if you talk about someone who has died and share their lives with others then they will never truely leave us. They live on in spirit anyway. Lots of love, T xxxx

Becky said...

I'm so fascinated by stories of women that really broke down gender barriers in their day. But, I was saddened to see read about her lonely life, even if by choice/conditioning.

Anonymous said...

God bless you for posting her name.

Dammit, I hate this moderation shit.

phlegmfatale said...

hoosierboy - thanks for taking time to read and think kind thoughts about Rita Tittle.

barbara - I think she would have liked that someone she didn't even know in Canada took a moment to write a kind word for her. Thanks.

starbender - sometimes the least loveable folks need love the most. I'm glad she found my folks

turboslut - and now kind words from the UK - she'd be amazed, I think. You're a peach.

becky - She certainly didn't hold back. She was a real daredevil, and I admire that kind of bravery.

nein - Well, at this point, why not post her name? I hate knowing how very unsung she is at this very moment, and it's not like the Federales are going to come hunt her down or sumpin'. She's heavy on our hearts right now, so this is my little monument to the very best of her life, and to the part of her that touched my heart.

FHB said...

It says a lot about the devastating impact that abuse can have, and the ability people have to survive in their own way. It speaks well of you and your folks for not judging her, welcoming her, giving her a sence of family, love and connection. Yer a class act.

phlegmfatale said...

aw, fathairybastard - we try to take people at face value. It makes for a less bitter existence, i think. That was a sweet compliment for you to give my family. Thank you.