A Bittersweet Family Reunion, a Few Drinks and a New Stripper Name

My Auntie T, myself and my Aunt Betty at my Seester's wedding.  Amazing women!
My Auntie T, myself and my Aunt Betty at my Seester’s wedding. Amazing women! They inspired me to become a nurse

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.

Don't bother me...I'm thirsty
Don’t bother me…I’m thirsty

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…

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To A Funeral…

This past week was a hard one for me.  I had to help lay to rest one of the men I call my little brothers, my cousin Billy.  The unexpected phone call came early in the am and was a shock to me.  I considered Billy to be one of my little brothers since my Bubby was born almost 11 years after me and Billy was only 4 years younger.  It is never easy to bury one of your own, but to bury a younger person is even harder.  It is still fresh and still hurts…I miss talking with him on the phone.  I miss his laugh and the ease at which we could always be with each other.  I even miss him calling me Kiki….my childhood nickname that he still called me.  My family means the world to me, even my cousins, and the thought of not going home to Iowa to say goodbye never even crossed my mind.  So, Bubby and I quickly made arrangements to fly out to Iowa and meet up with our family to do one of the hardest things we have ever done (those are Bubby’s big brothers considering he only has sisters).  No one should ever have to bury someone younger than themselves.   We caught a butt crack of dawn flight out and planned to meet our Dad there.

Dancing with Billy at his wedding 4 years ago. Miss you little brother.,,,may you watch over us all.

Upon landing in Des Moines, I turned my phone back on and noticed I had a text message from my Aunty T stating she was picking us up and not our Dad.  Huh.  Weirdness but ok…at least SOMEONE was picking us up.  Then my phone alerted me to a voice mail from my Dad which said something like this:  “Um…so I am not going to be able to pick you up.  I think someone will be there but if not just start calling family to come get you guys.  Something has happened and I am on my way to Illinois.  I am not quite sure what but your Aunt P got left at a McDonald’s in the middle of nowhere.  Will call you later.  Love you.”  I looked quizzically at Bubby and we tried to make sense of the message, knowing there has to be a story there.  Why did Uncle M leave our Aunt at a McDonald’s?  So unlike him…especially considering this Aunt has Parkinson’s disease.  Did they fight?  Did he mean to leave her?  Did he have a stroke or heart attack and got rushed to the hospital and Aunt P doesn’t know?  We tried to figure it out and got off the plane in search of our Aunty.  Upon finding Aunty and after the big hugs and kisses that are always accompanied when I meet up with her, we asked what was going on.  The plot then gets even weirder, if that is possible.  Guess they stopped at a McDonald’s to go to the bathroom and when Aunt P came out, Uncle M had left.  Luckily, she remembered my Aunt B’s phone number and called to get someone to come get her…4 hours away.  Aunty T had been trying to reach Uncle M all morning and was unable to do so.  They only have the one cell phone between them so poor Aunt P was stuck at this McDonald’s until my Dad could get there or someone got a hold of Uncle M.  They even called the local police but his car was nowhere to be found.  We worried that Aunt P was gonna be ok since she has Parkinson’s and kept trying to get a hold of Uncle M unsuccessfully.  Meanwhile, my Dad kept driving the 4 HOURS  one way to get Aunt P.

A few hours later, Aunty T’s phone rang and it was Uncle M stating “We are here in town”.  I hear Aunty T quickly say “What do you mean we, M?” Then the conversation quickly made me and Bubby giggle as Aunty T states to him “P is not in the car.  Look in the back seat M….she isn’t there.  That pile of blankets is not my sister.  I am as serious as a heart attack.  You left her at a McDonald’s in Illinois.”  How could we not laugh at this point?  He drove 4 hours without once checking to see if his wife was ok as he thought she was sleeping back there.  Really?  4 hours?  Not once did that pile of blankets move and my Aunt is never still for long due to her disease. Even Uncle M stated once he got to the house that the car ride had been really quiet.  Guess she had gotten out to go to the bathroom and Uncle M did not know she had gotten out of the car at all.   So my Dad drove 8 hours to make sure his sister made it to the funeral.  Let’s just say Bubby and I were glad we were not in the hotel room next to them that night!  It was the talk and laughter of the viewing that night…we were glad to have some giggles and I know Billy was laughing right along with us.  He would have thought that was a riot.   He probably arranged it cuz he would have hated us being all serious.  Oh Uncle M….pretty sure you will NEVER live this down from our family.  You left your wife in the middle of nowhere Illinois at a McDonald’s and never noticed.  My Uncle J asked me at the funeral luncheon if it would be appropriate to go ask Uncle M and Aunt P if they wanted McDonald’s for lunch…yup.  Never gonna live this one down.  For years, this will be the family joke. I might send them a McDonald’s gift card for Christmas…..

May you rest in peace my little brother…thanks for the laughter that we needed that night.  I miss you terribly.  Just know that I will watch over your Mom, kids and brothers for you…you meant so much to me and were always my favorite.  Aunty T….Billy will always be loved and we all miss him…I love you Billy.

I miss that little rascal in the blue….pretty sure I miss you calling me Kiki to irritate me

I wrote this blog especially for my Aunt N tonight….hope it brought you laughter and smiles.  I am glad my blog can bring you some joy right now and I am glad we got to visit with you….love you!

Oh yeah.  I didn’t die today.  I did however get some comic relief at a time when I needed it the most.  Life hands you curve balls and you have to pick yourself up.  I am fat girl who is glad she didn’t get left at a McDonald’s running.  The experiment continues….