Sunday, April 4, 2021

And now for this...

This has been an unsettling few weeks. My aunt, my namesake, died. She was ninety-five, and was in congestive heart failure and, boy, was she ready. Imagine trying to breathe night and day. Just breathing was exhausting. So while her death is sad, I'm glad she's at rest.

My aunt was a force of nature. And if I'm accused of refusing to suffer fools gladly, that woman put a patent on it. She was a woman born before her time. Had she been born a couple of generations later, she's have been the CEO of apple. But history isn't very kind to woman like that, trapped in their history because of their DNA. Conversely, I could see her being a chatelain of a castle, managing all and sundry with a deft hand while her lord was off trying to conquer the French. Believe me, that castle would have run like clockwork.

Both my mother and my aunt emigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s. Both were educated by the British government for free because they needed nurses. I've known scores of Irish women their age who became nurses under this program and who fled Ireland or Britain for the warmer climes of California. I will say that although my mother had lived here for sixty years, Ireland was still "home" on her lips. I would venture that my aunt was the same.

I know my aunt's kitchen as well as my own. That's how close the families were. There were some rocky years when the sisters didn't speak--and I will say that my mother was completely justified in cutting off my aunt--but they reconciled for several years before my mother died, and I'm glad they did. I think it must have been very lonely for my aunt (who was older than my mother) when my mother died a couple of years ago, and not for the reasons you may think. My aunt had two children and a gaggle of grandchildren and an ever-increasing brood of great-grands. I just mean that her history couldn't be shared anymore with someone who'd been there. Who could finish her sentences when she said, "Marth, do you remember..." And my mother would finish her sentences for her. 

And because of their relationship and our proximity to her house (I can only think of once when we didn't live within twenty minutes of my aunt's house) and just all that history, in some ways it's like reliving my mother's death again. Because I could say to my aunt, "Remember when Mom..." And now there's one less person I can revisit to bring my mother alive for just a few seconds.

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