My great aunt died today. Wow, it feels wierd to write. It’s not exactly a surprise to any of us. She was 94 years old. She’d had at least two heart attacks, a pacemaker, blocked arteries and in the last six months she’s had some pretty bad falls. Bad enough to land her in a nursing home, a place I know she never wanted to end up.
Sadly, the nursing home was getting ready to transfer her back home. She was so unhappy in the home and had a person willing to live in her home and watch over her. I guess the transfer took just a bit too much time for her though. She couldn’t hold on. Not even for my great uncle, her brother, who touched down in Florida an hour after she’d died. We all knew it was serious; I guess none of us realized just how serious it was.
My aunt and I did not part well, a fact which still alternately hurts and angers me all over again. Today though all that is behind me. Right now all I feel is sadness. It’s an odd kind of sadness though. It comes and goes in waves.
When my mother called to tell me I couldn’t even cry. I think I was too stunned. I made it through the entire conversation with lots of, “I can’t believe it,” but no actual tears. It wasn’t until several minutes later when a stranger came knocking on my door, no doubt selling something, that I realized I couldn’t speak to him. I had to apologize and quickly shut the door because I knew I was about to cry. And I did, although briefly.
For awhile I was fine. Then I called my husband who was at the airport waiting for his flight out of town. Once again the flood gates opened. Good man that he is, he offered to put work on hold and rush home to me. I know this trip is important and I knew I’d be ok in a bit, so I urged him to stay.
I played with my son. I ate dinner. I got him ready for bed. I watched an episode of Scrubs. I got excited at the prospect of Lost actually coming back on tonight. I was fine. And then I sat down to write this and found myself upset all over again.
Even though we left things badly and I felt very mistreated by her over the last few years, I can’t help but remember us years ago. Crying when she accidently got perm solution in my eyes the night before my father’s wedding. Playing hide and seek in her huge house and ducking behind the massive antique spinning wheel, hoping she wouldn’t see me. Giggling as she helped me up into the mocha colored bunk that was built in to her hideous green van. I always felt like I was flying up there. Trying to hide my head as she stuffed rolls in her purse at restaurants because I knew she could buy everyone in the room’s meal and still have a few million left over. All in all she was pretty good to me when I was little. And even when we were fighting, she’d still have moments when she’d remember me as the little girl who brought her a handful of poisonous berries and asked if they were rasp-berries before I popped them in my mouth.
Despite her desire to control my life and the selfishness that always seems to accompany old age, she loved me. And I loved her. And she’s gone and it really kind of sucks.