Wednesday, August 12, 2009
A Republican that I loved dearly
No, you didn't misread that. Some of you know about my late, dear great aunt Marie, who died two years ago tomorrow. It is already the anniversary in the Eastern Time Zone, which was hers, as I type this.
Do anniversaries make you pensive? Anniversaries of deaths in particular have that effect on me.
The other day I was looking out the window at work, and the way the sunlight hit the trees reminded me, like time was pinching me, of the view from the sunroom where Aunt Marie was dying. I am happy that she was able to drift away at home, in a cheerful, cozy room, surrounded by classical music and people who loved her. I am sorry that I had to tell her my brother was not coming. I am still stunned that in May, on our way to London, she told me in a phone call that she hadn't been feeling well, and in August, she was gone.
If I can take away one lesson from her life, it is to never doubt that one person can make a difference. I have thought of her even as I fight for causes the two of us have never discussed, or ones that she would have been uncomfortable with.
She was so patient - the one virtue I know I will never have - and that extended to all of us, even during times when we (OK, me) were extremely difficult.
I asked her to tell the story of how she got engaged to "Uncle John," her late husband, at least once on every visit. We never tired of it. More than 20 years after his death, she kept his home office intact. When she died, she kept his causes in her will.
Marie was the only truly balanced, sweet, unselfish person on that side of my family. It was like she somehow got different DNA. She was the family member I turned to when all of the other ones made no sense or were cruel or unavailable. She was the one who stayed with my aunts when their babies were born; she was, in her 80s, organizing fundraisers for displaced Katrina evacuees and crocheting blankets for Lutheran World Relief.
She left this world about 12 hours after I flew home, and as it turns out - at that exact time - I woke up after having a dream that she was younger, healthy again, walking through the woods.
She has visited in dreams a few times since then. In one, we were at a dinner party, and she scolded me, "Don't sit with your ankles crossed! It's not ladylike." Very much like her.
"You will be OK, even though I'm not there," she reassured me.
I think each of us needs an Aunt Marie.