Friday, May 18, 2012

Cookies and Soup

"She was the light of the room." I heard my uncle speak those words as he choked back enormous tears. He stood there bravely and talked about what his wife meant to him and how much he was going to miss her.  I have been to several family funerals in the past couple of years.  Most of them have involved an unbearable Catholic mass and reeked of "insert deceased's name here" coldness.  But not this time.  The gathering for my Aunt Sandy was one of the most personal and moving tributes I have ever been a part of.  I will miss her.

But, truth be told, I have missed her for years. You see my family is a little strange, at least my father's side.  My mother's side of the family is pretty nuts too but their craziness makes them close and you can't help but want to be around them.  My father's side - not so much - they're different.  They are all good people, don't get me wrong, and I love them - but there is an aloofness that is hard to describe. They are hard to get close to.  I've always said that when it comes to my father's side of the family my favorite people have always been the ones that have married in - unwitting participants in our own version of Dysfunction Junction.

Aunt Sandy was one of those favorites.  When she smiled her whole face smiled and when she laughed her whole body laughed.  In my father's family that makes you stick out like a sore thumb - I loved that about her.  Many years ago she withdrew from her speaking role in this strange familial comedy of errors and has kept her distance ever since. I don't blame her.  But I do blame myself.  I never knocked on her door or picked up the phone.  She is gone now and boy, I really missed out.  This whole family did.

Let me give you an idea of what kind of person she was.  When it was time for visitors to come up and "say a few words" about Sandy, her accountant got up and talked about what an impact she had on him - he met her just a couple of times to do her taxes.  Her taxes.  When you die, if the guy that does your taxes gets up and says he will always treasure the time he spent with you, I think you can consider it a life well-lived.

The gaps in my relationship with Sandy were generously filled in by her friends and neighbors that bravely took their place at the podium to talk about her.  Things I never knew.  She was a life-long learner and had many different careers in her short 62 years.  She was a teacher, a writer, a master gardener, an excellent cook and baker, obsessively organized, and was considered by many to be the best free therapist around.   She and her next door neighbor dreamed of opening a little shop that sold soup and cookies - the two things they loved making the most.  I never tasted her soup.  Or her cookies.

I can't really remember when I last spent time with Sandy.  I knew she was sick.  I knew the outlook was not good and that time was not on her side.  I wanted to visit but my ridiculous sense of "politeness" and fear and my "don't intrude" tendencies held me back.  Too late now.  No matter how much warning you are given that the end is near, it always sneaks up on you and takes you by surprise.  I wish I had more time. More time?  I've had my entire life.

In her last couple of days on earth she told a friend that she wanted to write a book.  Just a couple of weeks ago I started writing this blog.  I was not sure if I was going to have what it takes to keep going. Not any more. Now, I have to keep going. Thank you, Sandy.

1 comment:

  1. Christy thank you so much for writing this. It is beautiful and perfect. I am thankful that mommy's true spirit was able to shine so bright last night. I am so glad you were there and think it is a true attest to how amazing she was that she continues to inspire, even through her passing. Thank you for honoring her in this way I know she loves it as much as I do. XoXo