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Monday, September 26, 2016

She Flooded My Life with Light

I'm assuming every family has one... The one who connects all of the others, the one whom the family revolves around. I remember summers at her house, Christmas around her tree and family dinners when there were more family than room. I called her "Red Ant" because like Mohommad Ali, she could float like a butterfly and sting like a bee except she was a little bitty thing. I used to hate the way she used to wake us up in the morning. She believed sleeping late was for lazy bones and even if it was summer break, that was no excuse just to lay around sleeping your life away. She would bound into our darkened room, clapping her hands and in a sing song voice say "Rise and Shine, Rise and Shine" while throwing open the curtains, allowing the blazing sun to accost our sleepy eyes. She took great delight in this little ritual simply because she knew we dreaded it. I'm pretty sure that by todays standards it would be considered just a few hand claps shy of child abuse. When we were finally awake, she would sweetly ask if we would care for some chocolate gravy and biscuits, which would immediately eradicate, or almost eradicate any ill feelings we harbored about her rude awakening. She called me "Little Jackie LouLou", and her house was like a second home to me even though we lived 2 hours away. Being at Red Aunt's house was just how things were supposed to be. The family would stay up late telling family tales. My cousin and I would sit quietly and listen even though the stories had been told a thousand times. She would wait until everyone was tucked soundly in bed, even if that meant it was 3 a.m., before she whipped out the vacuum and begin to clean... Leaving little triangles on the living room carpet to be found first thing in the morning. I loved to pester her, I loved to shock her with off colored remarks just to see her pale skin blush and watch her mouth fly open in shock. She would laugh and slap at me and say.... "Awe, now LouLou". The last couple of times I visited her, I would hesitantly stick my head in her room to see if she recognized me. She would throw her hands in the air and say..... "Oh, if it isn't Jackie LouLou." We laughed together and she teased that she was going to spank me... "You'll have to catch me first," I told her.  She lived on a country road that dead ended at the pasture that used to be filled with cows.  Her house was down the road from my Grandparents', their houses separated by a huge garden in between. She took care of Grandma and Grandpa until God called them home. After they died, she took care of other elderly family members during their last days. She was the epitome of a care giver. Her hair had turned gray, her steps had become slow and unsteady, but she still had the sparkle that won her the title Red Aunt.... It lay there just beneath the wrinkles that adorned her precious face. After my Mother's funeral, looking into that face was surreal..... Their faces had become even more alike and it felt like home to me.  She was the matriarch of our family and we are a much better family because of her. All of my memories spent at her house will be treasured forever, and she will forever remain a piece of me, and a piece of everyone she touched because she just had a way of coming into your life and throwing the curtains wide open.... Flooding your heart, your life with a little bit of orneriness and a whole lot of light. The world is a darker place without her in it, but heaven has become oh so bright.

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