I just returned from a two day road trip with my dad! My sister went too. The highlight was making my dad laugh so hard coffee spurted through his nose... :) ... and the heartbreak was watching him help put my Aunt Goldie to rest.
It's been years since I went on a road trip with my family. We set out in my new Dodge Charger, announcing the standard "if you get pulled over" speech ... "you pay the fine!" We blazed down the interstates and as the miles settled behind us and we grew closer to our destination, my dad's mind drifted back to earlier years when my aunt and him had been young. I never knew my aunt had worked in the Pentagon during World War II; I never knew her first husband divorced her because she couldn't have children. I remember a fun-loving aunt who loved to spoil her girls ~ meaning my sisters and me because she never had kids. I remember sitting in the backseat of her '57 Chevy, the windows down, the radio up and Aunt Goldie snapping her fingers to the jazzy blues she loved while we raced down the blacktop roads. I remember playing dress-up in Aunt Goldie's fancy clothes, wearing bright red lipstick from those itty bitty Avon tubes. I remember Aunt Goldie's dog Belle, more spoiled than any canine had a right to be. I also remember visiting her in a nursing home four hundred miles away from me and wondering how such a vibrant woman had ended up a stroke victim for over twenty years.
Yes, she's been in a nursing home for twenty-three years! I think that might be some kind of record. Not one I'd like to strive for either. At the age of sixty, my aunt, living on the bluffs of the Ohio River, had a stroke. My father and mother, being retired and of the vagabond nature, were able to stop by often. Me, I was raising kids, working and rarely found the time to visit her. And each time I did, even though she couldn't talk, I vowed I'd return sooner rather than later to see her again. My last visit was ten years ago.
I didn't keep my own promise and I can't really tell you why. She was an important part of my childhood, my family, but four hundred miles became too big a bridge for me to cross. And that, will be one of my regrets, one of those times when I'd like a do over.
What I don't regret is taking the two days off work to be with my father and sister! We laughed, we cried, and we met family at Aunt Goldie's funeral who haven't seen me since I was running around in pigtails! And was I the one who wrote the books? And what was my name again?
Yep, I ended up peddling my books at my aunt's funeral! Aunt Goldie would have said it was only proper the rest of the family finally got around to seeing what my books were all about! Of course, my sister will never let this lay quietly ... at the first opportunity she will be telling folks how I handed out business cards and apologized for not having more with me and how my husband took my box of books out of the trunk to make room for the suitcases ... oh yes, this road trip will live on for a good long while.
And I'm glad. My dad and my sister are two of my favorite people. Spending time with them is never dull. Our family will be having an Easter get-together in another week, and our trip will come up ... disputes of who we saw, what they said, where we went ... will be hot topics. Stories of Aunt Goldie will fill the conversations. All will be lively and funny ~ because she was! We'll all practice our southern drawls. But in our own way, we again will have the opportunity to celebrate a life so important to my family. My Aunt Goldie was well loved. As the minister said, "Goldie was a fine woman, beautiful and full of life." That should be said with a southern drawl, please!
So this week the Acme Authors Link has shared our family sorrows. Loss and death are a part of life. They bring us closer to our own mortality. But knowing that doesn't make them any easier to bear. And so I hope your memories of your loved ones bring you some comfort as mine have brought me.
Golda Belle McDowell Brooks' funeral is over; the road trip done ... but the memories ... all those little tidbits that add up to so much ... will bloom and grow. And for now that is enough.
God Bless ~