Monday, November 9, 2009
Heavy Hearts and Heaven Calling ....
The Molly and I, while we were growing up, had 3 aunts. Two on our father's side of the family and one on our mother's. We visited our mother's family regularly and spent several long, hot summers being country children. Molly remembers these visits with a great deal of nostalgia. The mad aunt relating scary ghost stories or whispering the local gossip around the fire when little ears were supposed to be tucked up in bed. I remember very little of that time.
We saw our father's family rather less frequently. They lived quite a distance from us, so it was usually a funeral or a wedding that brought us all together. But every Christmas parcels would arrive in the post for us. They never forgot. My father's two sisters were called Gertie and Dympna. Gertie was the oldest and Dympna was the youngest. My father was the blessed boy in the middle.
When I was 19 years old and going through a particularly rough patch, Dympna invited me to stay with her and Fred. That was the start of a very special relationship that has withstood the distance of time and place. She minded and fed me like I was the only one who mattered in the world. She amused me with tales of her misspent youth in the hotel business and she held me in her heart, waiting patiently until I was ready. She was there. She also had a wicked sense of humour and Fred, being a very patient man, would just smile benignly at us as we were falling around the place, hysterical at our own funniness.
I sometimes think that she saved my life back then.
Through the years we kept in touch. When Fred died in 1977 she picked up her life again. She played golf, kept her garden full of blooms and painted in oils until her lungs nearly collapsed from the fumes of the white spirit. She was a wonderful cook and insisted that good food was the best and only medicine. She was a vibrant, life-loving woman. She enjoyed good health until the early 90's. Then the powers that be saw fit to take away her sight thus depriving her of some of her reasons to live; painting, gardening, reading. But they didn't manage to rob her of her sense of humour. Or her trust in her God. I know she had some very black days where there was no light at all but still she remained good-humoured and optimistic. She insisted on living alone. Independently.
For the last year or so she has been suffering from dementia. Not all the time but enough to distress others and herself. Last Saturday night she got up to get a drink of water and fell. She lay on the cold kitchen floor until her carer called on Sunday morning. This morning she was to have an operation to mend her broken hip. Her days of living her vibrant, humour-filled life are over.
My heart is heavy with the selfish sadness of losing her but for her sake I hope Heaven calls and that she is listening. I know she is ready.