An Aunt's Hands

An Aunt's Hands
Originally uploaded by ctb57.
My mom died in 2003, and her death, although it wasn't unexpected, was a blow to her sister, Jennettia, my aunt. Mom was the baby of the family, and the first of the siblings to die. It was hard for them all but especially so for Aunt J.

Aunt J was the oldest of the five (three others died in childbirth or infancy) and the only other girl. She was the oldest - mom the youngest with three typical boys in between. Aunt J was 15 when mom was born, and they were never really close as kids. As adults, they didn't get on the best, but they were family and loved each other. It was in their later years that they became close. Mom claimed that they had little in common because Aunt J was the spinster sister (took care of their parents) until late in life when she finally married.

Needless to say, Aunt J never had children of her own, but my sister and I were like her own. When we were kids, the weekly ritual was Friday night sleepovers every week with Aunt J and Grandma.

Aunt J and her husband, Uncle Merle, have been living in a cottage at the Methodist home for about 5 years now. Last fall, she was hospitalized with heart issues and then moved to a room in the nursing home part of the facility. She could move home, but for some reason, my uncle doesn't think she's ready to do so. She has a wonderful roommate, but she misses home badly. And, I must admit that I hadn't been to visit her once. I find it very hard to do so because of all the hospital time spent with mom, but it's no excuse. I also just simply hadn't made the time for a visit because of all the usual excuses . . . too busy, too tired, had other things to do. However, the day will come that I'll wish I would have visited. So . . .yesterday I was out taking photographs in the morning and planned on an afternoon visit to Aunt J. I stumbled upon a beautiful bed of crocuses on campus and snapped away. After getting some good shots, I printed them out and framed them up to take to add a bit of spring to her room.

When I got to the home, I almost didn't make it to her room. The smells, the sounds, the sadness and lonliness assailed me. The memory of mom's last weeks overwhelmed me. But, I forced myself on. When I got to her room, she was standing at the window looking out. I stood in the doorway just watching, and as I did, my heart ached; she looked so sad. I slipped in behind her and said, "Hello, sweetpea." She turned around and the joy on her face was indescribable. She grabbed me and held so tight as her eyes filled with tears. At that moment, I realized what my selfishness had denied her, and I was ashamed. A visit is really such a simple thing.

So, we sat and talked and laughed. Her roommate is Jeanette and a very wonderful lady as well. They get along fabulously. The only thing is that she calls me Cheryl Ann (it's what Aunt J has always called me). An aside here . . . I've never really been fond of my name, Cheryl, I don't really know why. Maybe it's because of the old story that Aunt J provided the name - from some tugboat in a story or a TV show or something like that. I've never figured out whether or not they've simply been teasing me all these years.

As I said, we spent the afternoon reminiscing and laughing. But when we would talk of mom, it was too much for Aunt J. She simply can't talk about it. I'm sorry for her. I told her that we will continue to remember mom and keep her alive that way and maybe someday she will be able to speak of her without such grief.

Later, I brought out the two crocus pictures, Purple Crocus and Yellow Crocus2
setting them on her dresser to replace the snow scene I'd given her for Xmas. Jeanette was thrilled as well telling me just how much they both enjoyed my snow photo. I had brought a couple of albums of pictures I have taken the past few months, and we had fun looking at them.

Before I knew it, it was 6 p.m., and I needed to get dinner of my own as they had had theirs earlier. Aunt J walked me to the entrance of the home, and I promised I'd be back. And I will, Uncle Merle had come in earlier for a visit and had brought their dog Jo-Jo. I took a few shots of him, one which I have framed out for her, and the shot of her hands that accompanies today's blog, so you see, I have no excuse to not return.



Blogger taliendo said...

Great story Cher, thanks for sharing. And it is wonderful to be able to give that simple gift of one's company - even though you had to come past your fears and reservations about the hospital. I am happy that you could overcome that and that you and your Aunt could benefit from it (and each other.)

a thousand blessings to you and your family.


4:13 PM  

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