left to right: Wendy, Carolyn, Marilyn, My Grandfather James, Gail, Roland, Shirley, Mama 1969 and the short lady in front is my Grandmother Yvonne (the last picture taken of my Grandfather alive and all of my aunts and uncles together)
I have shared before that my mother is one of seven children. I grew up with one uncle and five fabulous aunts. If you recall, my mother had me at 18 years old and my Dad was not in the picture at the time. You can only imagine how close I was to my Grandparents and to my Uncle and Aunties. All of my aunts fussed over me, combed my hair and fed me. They took me everywhere with them. I was their living babydoll. It didn’t hurt that after they all started having children, I was the only granddaughter among 8 grandsons. I was everyone’s daughter and they all called me regularly to check up on me.
What is it like to grow up with five aunts? For one thing, I remember always laughing. We spent countless hours playing cards, telling stories about them as kids and cooking. There was ALWAYS cooking going on in our family. My great-grandmother owned a restaurant and at one time, they all helped out by working, cooking and serving there. We are a family of cooks.
One of my aunts, my Aunt Wendy was born on July 1st…one day before me. Of course, we were kindred souls. Hey, we’re cancer women! We have called each other every year on our birthdays. She would call me on the first and I in turn would call her on the 2nd and we would laugh like we never spoke 24 hours before.
Auntie Wendy never got stressed when my other Aunts were fighting. She always remained the peacemaker. Always diplomatic. However, when you crossed her? Hell hath no fury. LOL She had a temper and a half when she unleashed. She was always the one that would show up when needed. She hopped a flight from California and was here to help take care of my Grandfather for an entire year before he finally succumbed to cancer in 2002. She was here all of this past summer taking care of my Grandmother after her stroke. She loved all of us with a passion.
My Aunt Wendy suffered a massive stroke a week and a half ago. She was in a coma upon arriving at the hospital. Her brain had to be cut open to reduce the swelling and hemorraging. My Uncle and one of my aunts, flew out to be with her immediately. The entire family mobilized and decided they would do shifts every weekend so that a family member would be with her for as many weeks as it took to get her out of the hospital.
Two more aunts flew out this Saturday for their turn to visit. My mom just called me to tell me that they are reporting that my Aunt Wendy is brain dead. They have just signed off to have her taken off life support tomorrow morning.
My grandmother, who is recovering from her own stroke hasn’t been told yet. *sigh*
None of my aunts can tell her so my Uncle is flying in from Florida to give her the news tonight.
My Aunt was a wonderful spirit. She always presented a brave face and happiness to others even though she lived alone in Los Angeles. I know that she missed her family very much but she needed to live and be free. I hope she found the happiness she left home searching for. I know I have the happiness she gave me and will carry it with me forever.
On this last day of her life….I will celebrate all of the great memories we shared. I love you Auntie Wendy and I am sorry I could not be there with you in your final hours but I hope you knew that a piece of me was always with you in spirit.