Issue 47



                My great Aunt Alice, aka AA, is a wonderful lady.  Unfortunately, I grew up on the West Coast and she lived Back East, so growing up I didn’t really know her other than she was the one whose cats signed my birthday cards.  In fact, I didn’t know much about any of my relatives.

                When I was twenty, I went to New York to work as an intern with a publishing house.  AA lived a bus ride away in New Jersey.  The first time I went to visit her I realized that I could spend every weekend of my ten weeks seeing a different relative.  I decided to get to know one of them very well instead of all of them not-really.  I choose her.

                I remember showing up at her door.  I was sick as a dog.  She took me in and instantly I understood what is meant by blood is thicker than water.  Her home was warm, and she cooked me my first real meal in two weeks.  I watched as she put a whole stick of butter in the frying pan.  “Butter is in your veins,” she said.  Yes, it certainly was.

                No one knows how old AA really is.  She has long, beautiful hair that her generation criminally taught her to always keep in a bun.  Up until just a few years ago her vision was perfect and she could take her car down her vertical driveway as long as there wasn’t any ice.  She lives alone, Uncle Ed having passed on years before.  She’s always taken care of herself and others.  “I call on Jesus,” she said once as she struggled to open a stuck window.  It was the maddest I ever saw her get.  “Oh,” she said, “help me Jesus.”  And then the window opened.

                On my plane trip with Skylar we visited AA.  Two months before when I told her we were coming out to see her, she said, “Well I may not be here when you get here.”

                “You’d better be.”

                “Oh, I don’t know.  You’ll have to talk to Upstairs about that,” she said.

                “You tell Upstairs,” I said, “that they’d better wait until after Skylar and I get there.”

                I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when Skylar and I arrived. A few weeks earlier family had found tall stacks of mail and rotting food scattered throughout her house.  They had moved AA to a rest home, I thought, and I had already planned where I was going to take her to dinner.  But the directions took me to a hospital.

                AA smiled as we entered the room.  She must have weighed less than a hundred pounds.

                Skylar stole the show.  While he sucked on his bottle, he was calm enough to lie next to her.  Otherwise he played with her wheelchair or chewed on her bed.  I did most of the talking.  I told AA she was one of my Heroes.

                “Pray for me,” she said in a way that I could not mistake what she was really saying.

                When we visited her the next day, AA was in a half-state, neither present nor entirely gone.  That night she was admitted to emergency.  I sat squeezing her hand and prayed with her, sang Amazing Grace, reminded her that Jesus had always helped with her storm windows and that he was here with her right now.

                I said good-bye.

                AA died while Skylar and I flew to Colorado.  I knew she had died, even before I got the phone call.

                My brother said he felt guilty that he was happy she had passed quickly.  I feel no guilt for my happiness.  She was an amazing woman to me, my favorite aunt.  I won’t see her body again in this life, but a part of her will always be with me.

                The beauty of my last visit with her continues to overwhelm me.  It was important to both of us that she meet Skylar.  And, like flowers in a vase that have passed their bloom, she has made room for the new bloom, my son Skylar.

                Such is the irrepressible mystery of life.


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