Wednesday, December 03, 2014
What's Eating You?
This morning I stayed in bed until 8 o'clock. I almost never stay in bed that late. I had some weird dreams. When I got up I thought I should write something for Holidailies right away and get that done. The writing prompt was about shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We will speak of my non-shopping ways another time. Today we will talk about my Aunt.
We call her Cappy. It's a nickname her brothers and sisters (and parents for all I know) gave her. She had two brothers and four sisters. My dad and my uncle and my four other aunts on that side of the family. Two of her sisters married and had kids. The brothers, too. (Two of her sisters never married.) She was single until she was in her mid-thirties. She was in the Navy. She married a Marine late in both their military careers. He went to Viet Nam after they married. He had been in WWII and Korea. They were married for over four decades until he died in 2013. All her sisters have died, too. Her brothers. All the husbands and wives of those siblings. Her nieces and nephews married. Some had children. Some of those children had children. But of her 'generation' on my Dad's side, it is only Aunt Cappy. It's true she was youngest of her siblings. The oldest was 20 years older. Cappy was born straddling the next generation, only 12 years older than the oldest niece.
The Marine she married hailed from a little town in Maine where generations of his family had lived. So they moved there after they retired and they took care of his mother until she died and stayed on in the land of harsh winters and beauty and lobsters until they couldn't weather the winters and finally couldn't maintain two homes so they could summer in Texas.
The picture above is of my aunt when Forrest and I visited Maine on a car trip. Nine years ago. She's joking with the lobsters we will consume. (Funny how the camera she's holding dates the picture. A Polaroid I believe. Although the rest of us were in the digital era by then.) We had a routine when we visited called 'Code of the West' (somewhat inexplicably in the eastern most state) that involved going for lobster at a lobster dock restaurant, taking home leftover lobster meat for lobster rolls the next day in a cooler, visiting the Pemaquid Lighthouse and Museum and having ice cream at a gift shop nearby.
My aunt is on my mind. She lives near Dallas now but on a Thanksgiving trip to Houston she fell and dislocated her shoulder and had to get a shoulder replacement yesterday. Several of my cousins and their wives are on the case. But I'm there in spirit. I took her back to Maine the summer of 2013 to lay my uncle's ashes to rest in his native soil. (And, incidentally, to reenact the Code of the West in his honor. And, let's be honest, do every fun thing he liked that we could make time for. That Marine was always so much fun.) I took her back again this last summer with the help of my own niece (who is, gulp, 46 years old!) to do the driving. Another cousin took her to South Carolina this year. On these excursions I worried that she would have a fall. I was inordinately proud of getting her home upright.
I hope that she rebounds to take the risk of being on unfamiliar ground again. There is an army of nieces and nephews and their progeny who will hopefully be there for our last elder of that generation. Maybe we will keep taking her on trips even though we fear the fall, especially the out-of-town fall. I wish she lived closer to me. (She is in a retirement home near Dallas.) But that would imbue additional responsibility. It's been a few years since we had parental units to look after. None were quite as fun as Cappy, though.
And whenever I see some older person being looked after, by a child or someone else, I now wonder: who will look after me? I posed that question to Aunt Cappy one time. She said: "Be nice to your nieces."