This last week, my family suffered another devastating blow when the matriarch of our family, Aunt Betty, suffered a massive stroke and passed away at the tender age of 68. My Aunt Betty was a beautiful woman who became like a second mother and surrogate Grandma to most of her nieces and nephews, myself included. She never married or had children of her own so we were all important to her as she was to us. Aunt Betty was a nurse for over 40 years and between her and my Auntie T, they both inspired me to become a nurse. She loved that I wrote and was always telling me to continue to do so because I brought much needed humor to her life. Losing her was hard. So, unfortunately, my Bubby and my Momma and I flew home to Iowa to have a bittersweet family reunion and say our final goodbyes to one of the women that I love very dearly.
Whenever my family gets together, for whatever reason, there are certain things that are bound to happen: laughter, drinking, and inappropriateness. For reals. If you recall, this is a rowdy bunch of Irish Midwestern people and we know how to enjoy each other, even in times of sadness. Aunt Betty would have loved it. This gathering was no exception. I can sum up my family and our humor in one moment. At the viewing, my Auntie T and Uncle F were standing behind the memory table talking and I went up to ask a question to which my Uncle F replied “Can’t you see I am trying to molest your Aunt?” Yup. My inappropriate family in a nutshell. Despite the reason for us coming together, we still managed to enjoy our time hanging out as a big family unit at the place we always gather…Aunt Betty’s house. My Aunt lived in my Grandma’s old house (we lost my Grandma in 1989) and to say she used a lot of talcum powder was an understatement. And by a lot I mean a TON. In fact, there was a layer of it covering EVERYTHING in her room. When my Auntie T and I were trying to find the title to her car, we created a haze in her room moving things around. Such a haze, that my Wicked Step-mother and I had to leave before we both had an asthma attack. It was quite comical. I couldn’t tell if it was just covering my glasses or we were really looking through a haze of it until Uncle M came up and commented on how cloudy it was in her room. Note to self: ban the use of talcum powder in my house.
After emerging from the talcum haze, I went outside to sit with my cousins in the sweltering humidity to watch my hair frizz, the kids run around and drink a few beers. One of my cousins quickly handed me a beer and his wife handed me another, making me look like the lush in the family (maybe I secretly am but shhhh…don’t tell about my box of wine) as these were not small beers. No these were the giant beers and I laughed knowing I looked ridiculous but grateful for the drink on such a hot humid day. A few minutes later, My Dad came outside to look for me and used his drill Sargent voice to FULL NAME call me. I jumped and quickly handed my beer to Cousin M so that I would not get in trouble (even though I am pretty sure I am old enough to have a beer in front of my Dad). Bubby actually jumped as well and whispered “You are in sooooo much troooouuuubbbble”. Of course Cousin M then looked like a lush with two huge beers in his hands and said “I don’t wanna get in trouble..take this back” to which I quickly shook my head. Of course, Dad was just looking for me for another reason and hadn’t even noticed the giant beer in my hand. Whew. There are some things you never outgrow and hearing my Dad’s drill Sargent voice call my full name will always make me jump.
While we were sitting around, some the kiddos were playing hide and seek and Cousin D decided it would be fun to go around the house and jump out at all of them and scare them. A few minutes later, we all hear screams of little girls as they come running through the yard with Cousin D laughing hard. One of the babies, who is two, was sitting on my lap playing with bubbles and when she heard the screams, she immediately said “Naughty Dave”, much to our amusement. She then proceeded to make up a little song consisting of nothing but the words “Naughty Dave” that she sung over and over. We all decided that Cousin D should immediately quit his managerial job and become a stripper since Baby E had come up with his name already…and a theme song to boot! When Cousin D went to leave that night, Baby E even yelled “Bye Naughty Dave” at him. According to her Mommy, she even sang the Naughty Dave theme song as they drove home days later. Pretty sure it will now be his name forever when we all get together. Get used to it Naughty Dave.
So, once again, my family has laid to rest a beautiful soul. A woman who inspired me to become a nurse, who came to every graduation I had when we lived states away, who sewed me a box of Barbie clothes when I was little, who gave the best hugs and who loved all of her nieces and nephews with all her heart and soul. Thank you my Aunt B for always accepting me just the way I am and encouraging me to follow my dreams. I will cherish your laugh, your relish for cooking, and most of all I will cherish the way you loved your family and made each of us feel so special. Even as the tears are falling as I write these words, I know that you are at peace and I shall always and forever love you. I miss you. I shall use the words of one of the babies in the family, your sweet little man L who said at the viewing as he saw you lying there “Bye My B” No words are better said. Bye My B.
Oh yeah. I didn’t die today. I have cried as I blogged today but I didn’t die. I am Fat Girl emerging from a talcum powder haze with two huge beers, a cousin with a new stripper name and realizing that nobody got left at a McDonald’s this funeral Running. The experiment continues…