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.

14 comments:

ZIRGAR said...

Without knowing your aunt I can't but feel that inwardly she'd be proud of this testimonial but outwardly would probably tell you not to stop making such a fuss :-)

ZIRGAR said...

Oops, sorry. I meant she would probably tell you to stop making such a fuss. Amazing what a couple of words does to the overall meaning of a sentence.

Oh, cool. The word verification on this comment is misangfu! Sounds like slang for some deadbeat dad who's whereabouts are unknown or an obscure branch of some esoteric form of East Asian martial arts.

Granny Annie said...

I am very happy that you can admit to loving a Republican. There are still many "Aunt Maries" out there who can cross the aisle and hold the hand of a Democrat because they basically share a common bond. It is only the loud mouths that get all the attention but they do not make up the majority of either party.

If your wonderful Aunt scolded you for sitting with your ankles crossed, one can't help but wonder how she would have felt about your favorite exclamation. (You know what I mean:)

I love hearing about your Aunt Marie and I am certain many of us who have come to know you, now know where you got your soft, sensitive side. She would have loved this tribute I am sure.

mistyws said...

I enjoyed hearing about your aunt. Some things you wrote reminded me of someone I befriended in blogworld..who was quite sick--and i woke up the night she died, in the middle of the night, knowing that she had passed..i do think sometimes we can sense things..especially people we connect with.

Fireblossom said...

Wow, RK lubs a 'publican! Hehe. Aunt Marie sounds super cool, and I love that she drops in on your dreams to check on you.

I, too, loved a republican. At least I assume she was, cos she lived in extremely republican Orange County, California for many years, and my entire family is wayyyyy red. But I loved her, she was a wonderful gramma. She made soft animal toys for me and made ceramic figures and played cards with me and loved baseball. Also, we both drove my mother nutty with our ways lol :-)

LL Cool Joe said...

Granny Annie has said it so much better than I could. We could all do with an Aunt like that.

Darth Weasel said...

If I can take away one lesson from her life, it is to never doubt that one person can make a difference.

In our cynical world, that alone makes her far more heroic than many people who are held up as heroes.

Green tea said...

Sounds like a special lady,
I have been going through a similar
anniversary.
My best friend Arlis died August 9th
1998, her son and I took her to the Hospital 4 days before with what we thought was a bad flu, but turned out to be a strep infection of the blood.
So many to mourn for..
Wishing you happy memories..

Riot Kitty said...

Zirgar: You're right on! When I wrote a column about her a few years ago when I was working at a newspaper, she said it was OK only because "no one there knows who I am." She was not one to make a fuss about herself.

GA: I never swore around her, to be sure :) We were able to talk politics in a civil way, but then again, neither of us was loving either political party.

Misty: So you had a similar experience! That is neat.

FB: Love your new avatar :) She sounds like a neat relative, too.

Joey: Yes, we could all use an aunt like that!

Darth: Good point. You would have liked her, I'm sure.

GT: Hugs!

vivavavoom said...

Beautiful entry!

G said...

Nice remembrance about your Aunt.

It seems that we have one person in our life that we strive to actually behave around.

Most of my relatives and family members I could get away with unbelievabl assinine behavior.

But when I was around my dad, I behaved myself like I was a Sunday school teacher.

I didn't swear (because he never used profanity. ever.).
I didn't drink, not that I don't anymore anyways (because the only time I think I saw him drink was at my wedding. made that one glass last the entire day).

Dad was a Reagan Democrat before there was such a thing.

Five years later, I still miss him.

smallbytesbythecapital said...

I can give you the date of every grandparent who died in my family along with my mother's divorce date. Ask me when my remaining grandparent was born and I can give you a month. The biggest date to me is my maternal grandpa's. (not the asshole one who kicked the bucket the day after my birthday... thank God... that would make my birthday worse... at least then my dad would always remember it, but I digress)
Every year when the anniversary hits, I think of him. I've even taken the day off from work on his death anniversary. The hardest, was the year where he had been dead longer than I had known him. I felt as if I had somehow lost him again. I don't remember his voice anymore, which really gets to me. However, I remember his kindness, his ability to make fantastic pasta, and how the rest of the family was scared shitless whenever he was behind the wheel!!! (He kept eye-contact when talking.... especially when he drove.) So, you're far from being alone with your thoughts on death anniversaries of beloved family members.

pheromone girl said...

Hear, hear.

themom said...

She definitely impacted your life...that is wonderful. Our politics should not define us. It is waht we have to give from within.