My parents still think I'm 7 years old. They will shield me from bad news or wait to tell me things because they don't want to worry me. So this past weekend, they waited until we got home from Boston on Sunday night to tell us that my Aunt Mary wasn't doing well. By then, it was too late to visit her, so we had to wait until Monday night when I got home from work.
I get home to get ready to go and visit my Aunt Mary. According to my dad – and my entire family who was able to go and visit her when this happened because they knew about it and no one shielded them from the information – she wasn't doing well. In fact, he said it wouldn't be a good idea for ME to go. But it was up to me. Thanks, Dad, for letting me, I don't know, make a decision for myself.
Before we make it out the door, the phone rings. It's my Grandmother, Aunt Mary's sister.
GRAM: "KK, I was wondering if you would do a eulogy at Aunt Mary's funeral? You did such a good job at Mr. KK's grandmother's funeral."
Don't get me wrong, I am flattered, but my Aunt Mary is still alive.
When we arrived at the nursing home, one of the nurses was sitting by Aunt Mary's bedside. If you knew my Aunt Mary, you knew she was less than politically correct when it came to others' race and religion. Her mouth could put many to shame. But we ignored it because, hey! she was old.
My Aunt was never an easy patient, and the the African American nurse sitting there was the only that she liked. She had brought a little stuffed dog with her, and had tucked it under my aunt's arm. When we got there she got up to leave. "Mary's my girl," she told me.
And then she bent down and gave my Aunt Mary a kiss on the head. There was something about seeing this large woman's dark face next to my Aunt's pale cheek, that small gesture, that instantly brought tears to my eyes. My poor Aunt Mary. As spunky as she was, she still had fans.
Maybe it was my grandmother's sixth sense, but my Aunt Mary passed away last night, shortly after midnight.
I'm so happy that Mr. KK and I got to see her.
I'm not super religious, but I almost feel like she had seen everyone else and was just waiting until we got there – the last ones, of course – to finally give up.
I hope I'm able to write and speak at the funeral, but I don't want to disappoint my grandmother.
I have a lot from which to draw, as my Aunt Mary was quite a character. And even at the very end, when she really wasn't eating or feeling all that well, when I opened up her nightstand drawer last night, it was filled with packets of Sweet 'n Low.
We'll miss you, Aunt Mary.