My aunt Alice died suddenly last weekend. Suddenly, as in, I just saw her last month at a graduation party and now she’s gone. Suddenly, as in, if I close my eyes, I can still feel her hugging me goodbye.
I have to tell you how much I’m going to miss her.
So, my uncle Dave, who is one of the kindest souls I know, asked me to help with the eulogy. I was so excited because I have much to share. I wrote down many wonderful memories and even brought props.
But, there was one problem. And that problem is called, “Amy Is An Idiot and She Showed Up an Hour Late to Her Aunt’s Funeral”.
Yes, you read that right. I had written down that the funeral started at 4:00 and it actually started at 3:00. And, because of family drama and sheer stupidity, I didn’t double check the time. Apparently, my relatives were concerned about my well-being. They should be more concerned that I can’t get it together and I have the beginnings of dementia.
So, now, oh captured audience, you will hear my eulogy. Plus some.
In the family pecking order, aunts rank high in my book. They’re not like a mother or grandmother in that they don’t worry as much about you. They don’t have to feed, clothe, discipline or educate you, so that leaves them the freedom to just watch you grow up and be encouraging. They can be fun, spontaneous, goofy, eccentric or just plain strange and you will still love them. Everyone needs an aunt of their own.
My aunt Alice was an incredibly colorful person. My uncle Dave asked me to describe her with one word and the word I choose is orange. Orange as the huge paintings with orange accents that took up her living room walls when I was a little girl. Orange as the kitchen counters in our first house that she begged us not to remove (I thought that they were too groovy to keep). Orange as the warmth of autumn, orange as a sunset. Orange as in original, opinionated and special.
Speaking of special, she always made me feel that way. When I was five, I sat on her lap and sang to her the entire Peter, Paul and Mary song, “Leaving On a Jet Plane” while she listened in rapture the entire thing. She convinced me that I was a gift from above.
I couldn’t help but love her quirkiness. One afternoon she invited me for lunch at her apartment. When I walked in the door, quite a few of her belongings were strewn all over the floor and a roll of tape was sitting beside them. “I’m labeling things for when I die. Which one of these things do you want?”, she asked, as if she were taking my lunch order. I have no idea what I told her, but she lived another 15 years. Talk about getting things in order.
I love the fact that she treasured our family. I remember when her basement flooded and she sloshed through sewage to rescue the ceramic Christmas tree that my grandma had made for her. I was appalled and asked her why on earth she would walk through nasty sludge to keep a white Christmas tree with blue lights? Her answer was simple, “Because, honey, some things just can’t be replaced.”
When I was older, she helped give me a wedding shower and then a baby shower. She visited me in the hospital, while I sat gestating for a month, waiting for Eldest Son to be born. Most people brought me food and paperback novels, mainly popular romance and fantasy paperbacks. Alice brought me “Body Language” and “I’m Okay, You’re Okay”. Maybe she was okay, but I definitely was not.
When my Dear Husband brought me and our tiny, premature baby home from the hospital and I sat and cried for four days straight, Alice brought me a bean pot lamp for our kitchen table. “Everyone needs a bean pot lamp, honey…” she simply said. Years later, I appreciate her coping skills. What she was really saying to me was ‘you can do this and it’s going to be okay’.
She also gave me a gorgeous handmade rug because Eldest Son was born on her birthday. She laid the rug down, took her shoes off and stood on it saying, “If you ever feel sad, just stand on this rug and know that you are loved.” I’ve been standing on that very rug a lot this week.
I know how much aunt Alice loved my cousin Larry, his wife Julie and their three beautiful children. They were the light of her life. She loved cooking, golf art and adored her dog. We were all so lucky to have her in our lives.
So long, Auntie Alice. Rest in peace. We’ll meet up again someday and it will be so good to see you. Save a beer for me, okay?