My dear aunt. THE steel magnolia of them all. She was the family event planner. Knower of all rules of etiquette, seating, and the like. It all seemed so effortless to her, just like her attention to everyone in our huge family, what year each graduated high school and college, their birthday (usually down to what time and what they weighed), their favorite color, scent, flower, food, and dress or shoe size. No details ever lost on aunt Bucky as we called her.
She passed away a week ago while I was on the other side of the Atlantic. I tried to remain calm, which I did. And then I lost it. I don't know how long I sat there. I don't know how long I stared at nothing. I don't know how long I lay collapsed in the shower crying. But I thought of her and how she would handle it. I went to the church steps away from my Paris apartment, Saint Ambroise, and took in the majestic feeling, said some prayers, lit a candle, and then made the plans to be with family.
She was the one who called me a steel magnolia.....
She lived in a small town in conservative Virginia. She was always perfectly put-together just like her perfectly decorated yet welcoming home. She was very gracious and never judged me. She always encouraged me in my work as well as life and the many gypsy adventures. She laughed at my funny stories and consoled me in bad times, but always gave a sense of hope.
I keep having these random good flashes of moments with her. I keep thinking of the photos from Paris I would show her. And then I realize again she is gone. It goes to show, as her son, my cousin pointed out: None of us know when our time will come.
That doesn't mean you should be afraid. I believe instead, it means we should live each day full of love and hope and appreciate those around us :) I will miss her terribly. Its been difficult to say the least. But my gosh, what a gift to have had someone like that in my life and to have her love live on.
Take care people. Be kind to one another. Don't take good people in your life for granted. Be that maker, lover, and keeper....
From her memorial service:
Briefly It Enters, and Briefly It Speaks--Jane Kenyon
I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .
I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .
I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .
I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .