Daily Archives: June 14, 2011

aunt mary

I’ve been really slacking on the blog front.  Shame!

I will never be a famous, awesome blogger if I can’t managed to squeeze out more than post a month, now will I?

But, there was something that I had to write and until I did that, I felt like I couldn’t write about any of the other trivial silly things that I might have, like giving myself a weekly speed test for running a mile or going on vacation to Kaua’i.

The thing is that my Aunt Mary, my mom’s twin sister, died on May 10.

She was sick for a long time.  Cancer of the appendix that kept turning into cancer of this and cancer of that.  They took little bits out of her one at a time until I’m not really sure what was left in there.

It went on for so long that I got used it.  And because I was on the other side of the country, I didn’t have to confront the reality; I only had to settle myself with the idea.

When she finally did die, I thought it was fine.  A relief more than anything else.  The horribleness of her story was finally over.  My mother did not have to make the trip out to see her every weekend to weep at her bedside.  It was good to be finished.

David and I went to the funeral, flying out on a red eye on Tuesday night, arriving in JFK on Wednesday morning.  We went to pick up Nana from her nursing home and then to the service.  I expected it to be hard, but fine.  Tolerable.  It was so much worse than I expected.  It’s normal to not see Aunt Mary most of the time.  She’s never come to visit me here in California.  But it is definitely not normal to see those cousins, to see her children and her step children, to be there in her scene and to not see her.  She seemed so horribly missing.

And then later, taking Nana back to the nursing home… she had appeared so stoic through it all, but then she started to cry.  She said “She was my little baby.  I held her in my arms.  How can I never see her again?”  It was possibly the most despairing moment of my life.

Aunt Mary was like a fairy godmother to me.  When I was a little girl, she didn’t have children of her own, me and my brothers were the only nieces and nephews, and she absolutely doted on me.  The boys were wild and unruly, but I was *the little girl.*  I was the outsider in my dirty, tumultuous, heathen family.  I wanted cabbage patch dolls and make-up and the clothes from Benetton that all the other popular girls wore and, much to my mother’s disgust, Aunt Mary would always oblige.

When I was 11, I flew from North Carolina to New York all by myself to visit her.  She bought me a red dress and took me to see a Broadway musical and to eat at the Hard Rock Cafe.  It was amazing and fantastic and wonderful.  A fantasy.

But as much as she loved me, she always wanted to have her own children, of course.  I was too young to know all the details, but she had quite a few miscarriages before she and her husband (who she’d only just married when I was 8 or 9 or so) decided to adopt.  So in her early 40’s, she adopted two children – newborns each – about two years apart.  And just like she had spoiled me on birthdays and on various special occasions, she spoiled these two children.  But every day.  Until they grew up into something awful.  Maybe because of the over abundance of cloying love, maybe because of their genetic nature, maybe because of a thousand things combined.
After her marriage to a man ten years older and becoming a mother of two, I was no longer her favorite.  But I was getting older and didn’t really need an aunt for whom I was the favorite any more.  Later, I moved to California and I saw her very rarely.  Probably I didn’t even see her every time I went home to visit my family, which is usually only once or twice a year.

So by the time she got sick, I was already removed – emotionally and physically.  More than other feelings, I hurt for my mother going through the loss of a sister, a twin.  And it scared me that I could now be at an age in which my parent’s people, or my parents, could die.  And I thought that it would be fine.  It will be sad, but ok.  It is ok, but now that it’s over I see that there is still the grief of a little girl who lost a very special aunt.

Aunt Mary and me, 1 year old. 1978.

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