The Loss of My Aunt Marie
Last week, we lost a dear family member, my precious Aunt Marie.
The family is still reeling from the colossal loss.
Aunt Marie was a sweet and special aunt to me, and a loving mother to her four boys, all grown now with wives/fiancees and children of their own.
Aunt Marie started off as one of four sisters. She was the eldest, followed by my mother, then Aunt Louise, with Aunt Fran being the baby. I never got to to know Aunt Louise – she was mentally ill, diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age, and died when I was a teenager. The other three ladies, however, became my guides and my lifeblood.
Mom, Aunt Marie, and Aunt Fran made the perfect complement to each other. Aunt Marie was kind, soft-spoken, and non-judgmental. She dearly loved those around her, and they loved her back. She loved being around all of her boys and their families, with all the loud joking, horseplay, and sports talk. Aunt Marie loved to talk to family and friends on the phone, offering a kind word or a gentle joke. If you need someone to just listen and not judge you or offer unsolicited advice, or even someone to watch Grey’s Anatomy with, you knew to call Aunt Marie.
Aunt Marie’s only downfall was that she always put herself last. In spite of the fact that she had diabetes and heart problems, we still couldn’t get her to eat right or stay hydrated, no matter how much we admonished her. She would rather suffer quietly in pain that assertively ask the doctor to do something about it.
Aunt Fran is on the other end of the spectrum. As opposed to Aunt Marie, who loved being in a room full of people, Aunt Fran prefers to be by herself or with a good friend, curled up with her blanket and her cat, watching some good TV. She is assertive and has a strong sense of what she wants in life. One of the things I love about Aunt Fran is that you know exactly where you stand with her. If you need someone to give you some tough love and tell you the advice you know you should be taking, you call Aunt Fran.
There are a lot of people Aunt Fran doesn’t like; if she does like you, consider yourself VERY lucky. Some folks never see past Aunt Fran’s somewhat spiky exterior. But that’s where they’re wrong. Underneath it all, Aunt Fran is one of the kindest and strongest people I know. She would do almost anything for the people closest to her. She also feels things very deeply and worries about her family and friends. She thinks of them and carries them with her through her daily life. I consider myself blessed to know her.
In between these two ladies is my mom, Phyllis. My entire life, she has been my guiding light and my compass. Outgoing and charismatic like Aunt Marie, she loves and is loved by many. She herself has a lot of opinions, but she usually keeps them to herself, unless you know her well enough. I like to think I’m her best friend, because she certainly is mine. My mom taught me how to be a good person and I can’t imagine my life without her.
With Mom, you have to be careful because you can easily hurt her feelings. She wears her feelings on her sleeve and her many, many friends love her for it. At the same time, she is the most emotionally strong person I know. When we lost my dad, she was the only person in the room with him. When Aunt Marie’s time was near, Mom kept pushing on, never leaving her side (except once to go to the bathroom).
If I want advice on how to follow my heart and see the absolute best in people, I call my mom. If I’m going through something devastating and need someone to be there for me, I call my mom.
You see, these three women perfectly complement each other. They leaned on each other throughout their lives, sharing experiences, joys, laughter, and pain. They celebrated each other’s triumphs and mourned each other’s losses. They were always there for each other, no matter how annoyed they got with each other.
Now, it makes me most sad to think of my mom and my Aunt Fran without my Aunt Marie. It’s like a triangle with a missing, vital side. It’s hard for me to imagine that it’s just Mom and Aunt Fran now. It seems wrong, somehow. Now they have to learn how to navigate life without one of the people they turned to most for support. I know they’re lost and I’m lost for them.
I pray that love and faith will see them (and me) through this. I have some comfort in the fact that Aunt Marie is not in pain anymore, and that she’s watching over us from heaven, as our guardian angel. Telling us to not be so hard on ourselves, to indulge our sweet tooth, and to cuddle our pets every chance we get. And to remind us that time with our loved ones is precious, and we never know when it’s going to run out.
Triangles Coming Together to Make an Abstract Rose, Photo Credit