Monday, February 27, 2012

The People You Kind Of Know

Everyone has relatives or acquaintances that they don't know very well, but always seem to be on the periphery of our lives. Someone at a family get together mentions second cousin once removed George, or a coworker mentions a colleague from xyz branch, or your friends talk about Jenny that they knew from school but she was in a different grade than you, and you never really knew her.

These are the people you kind of know. You may have even met them once or twice...or you may know them by reputation only. These are the people that you never really know well enough and then suddenly they are gone and you wish you'd taken the time to talk to them. You read an obituary of one of your edge dwellers and you think "I should have known that" or "I wish I could have been a part of their life" or simply "They sound pretty cool". And you feel a little guilty for being so busy that you never took the time to really get to know them, even if you really didn't have the time or opportunity.

I'm sure each of us is an edge dweller in someone else's life as well. Who's going to read your obituary and wish they'd been able to be a closer friend or a more involved relative?

Last week my father's aunt (by marriage) Connie died. Connie was a year younger than dad and married to his uncle Paul who was a 2 years older than my father but they were raised together, almost like brothers. She was the closest thing to a sister my dad had, and I think that for an only child that meant a lot to him.

I'd met Connie at a few family reunions and a couple family funerals. I was always too young and too self-absorbed to really pay much attention to the adults at these functions. I knew who she was and who her kids were and how we were related, but I didn't really know HER.

She was the last surviving member of that generation of my father's family. I wish I'd known them all better. I wish I hadn't been so silly and teenager-y and had asked questions and really listened to their answers.

I do remember going to the Blue Goose restaurant in Logan once (not to be confused with the Blue Bird restaurants) with my grandma to meet her sisters and sisters-in-law for soup. They did this once a week and were known as "The Soup Sisters" to most of the downtown merchants. The ones that lived outside the valley came when they could, but it was really rare that they could all get together. I was so little that I don't remember much, but I do remember them all trying to tell me stories about my father. The only one I could remember is the one where all the aunts were supposed to be babysitting him while his mother (their sister) was at work, but since all of them thought the other was watching him it turned out no one was watching him. Being quite young and not knowing any better, he apparently experimented with eating dirt and when that proved unrewarding he took a button that had popped off his shirt and tried to see if it would fit up his did, but it fit so well he couldn't get it out and he ran into the house crying and very dirty. His grandmother had to remove it with tweezers, then she scolded all his aunts for not taking better care of him. Great-Aunt Rebecca told everyone, very loudly, that she quite distinctly remembered it wasn't HER turn to babysit and that she couldn't be true Great-Aunt Rebecca fashioned. Connie laughed and said she'd never heard it before and told me that being there and listening to those stories made me and honorary Soup Sister. That made me feel pretty proud.

Even though Connie came from a different culture, different religion, and different political background she still loved her husband's family very much. She loved and respected my parents so much that in her obituary they are listed as her in-laws, instead of just lumped in with the "nieces and nephews". Reading it makes me realize what a great woman she really was and how much I didn't know about her.

Here is her obituary from the Salt Lake Tribune:

1923 ~ 2012
Constance Loizos Cardon "Connie" passed away Saturday, February 18, 2012 having lived a full, rich, and giving life of 88 years. Connie was born in American Fork, Utah on August 10, 1923 to Greek immigrants Christ and Angelica Takanikos Loizos. She was the first of six children.

The family moved to Murray, Utah in 1930, where they established a successful farm. Connie taught her siblings English as she learned it in school, and interpreted as required, becoming the family leader at an early age. As a young girl she also attended Greek school. Connie excelled in school, graduated from Granite High School and attended the University of Utah. Connie worked in a secretarial capacity at various downtown Salt Lake businesses and at Dugway Proving Grounds during World War II.
Connie married Paul Ballard Cardon and had three children, Mary-Ellen, Ann and Sam. Paul passed away in October 1962 of kidney failure. With three children under the age of seven, Connie moved the family to a new home close to her mother where she remained until her passing. The two street cul-de-sac became a small family with treasured friendships and experiences.

Life was difficult, but regardless of the challenge, Connie maintained a standard of expectations assuring her children would face life head on, with personal strength and honesty. When the children were all enrolled in school, Connie revived her secretarial skills and was fortunate to find a position at a business a block away from her home, National Housewares, finally retiring from Utah Power and Light creating deep friendships along the way.

No matter how you know Connie, you know her cornerstones: food, laughter, story-telling and lending a hand. No one could tell a story like Connie, no one made better stuffed grape leaves or Greek Easter cookies and no one could laugh as richly and deeply as she. Many dinners were held at her home, with a crowded table, mismatched dishes, food enough to make sure everyone went home with at least one entire meal and an experience that would be remembered fondly by all. Her presence at any activity created an atmosphere of enthusiasm and fun.

A clear and strong thinker, Connie was always available to anyone and took action whenever she saw a need. Friends and family knew they could count on her at anytime and she was often sought out for advice. Connie leaves behind a legacy of love, giving and personal grace.

Proud of her Greek heritage, Connie was very fortunate to have visited Greece three times, meeting family and exploring the country. Connie maintained Greek family traditions after her parents' passing emphasizing Greek meals and sharing recipes and cooking techniques with her nieces and some nephews. Connie joined a Greek Folk Dance class over 30 years ago. They have become a small family, still meeting and dancing together. She was a member of the Greek Orthodox Church and a lifelong Democrat.

Connie is survived by her children, Mary-Ellen Cardon and Ann Cardon of Salt Lake City and Samuel Loizos Cardon of Orlando, FL; her brother, Sam Loizos of Murray, UT, brother-in-law Charles Teed, Las Vegas, NV, in-laws Louis and Rosemarie Hickman and many nieces and nephews each of whom she carried a special love for. She is pre-deceased by her parents Christ and Angelica, her husband, Paul; her siblings and their spouses, Sonia Handy, Wilma Teed, Jim and Bette (Vic) Loizos, Tom Loizos, niece Christina Ipson; Paul's parents Louis and Rebecca, his brother and sisters and their spouses: Ballard and Eleanor Cardon, Margaret Hickman, Rebecca and Bud Peterson, Helen and Frank Lamb, Edna and Tom Taylor, Lucille and Keith Reading, Ruth and Pernie Leonard.

Funeral services and burial will be at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary, 3401 So. Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah. Visitation will be Monday, February 27 from 6:00-8:00 pm. Services will be held on Tuesday, February 28 at 2:00 pm with visitation one hour prior. In lieu of flowers please give to the. May her memory be eternal.


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