It's a curious thing. Not sure how it happens. From time-to-time, I'll be thinking about something having a conversation internally with myself and then in my memories section of my Facebook page sure enough the topic I was thinking about will be there. Don't ask me how it happens. It could be that some part of our mind knows more than it let's other parts know. Synchronicity or as I call it Serendipity.
So here I am writing an article about my Aunt. Arlene was her name. Although she told me it was supposed to be Irene and that her father made a mistake in saying the name to the person who put it on the birth certificate.
When she would send me a package or a card, which she often did, candy, money, and once a sweater meant for a female, I would be Boris and she would be Natasha. And we would speak in code about the drop-off point.
I don't remember the first time we met, that's because I was only a few hours old. She told me she was a bit tipsy and yet made my bassinet. Glad she admitted it.
After my mother died, I used to take trips to visit her. She owned a bar restaurant. Tally-Ho!
On one occasion, after a five hour trip, from Olyphant, Pa, I arrived at her place of business, tired and just wanting a drink; instead, she put me to work because no one scheduled to do so-showed up that day. Often I think of what happened to all the money that I made there. She gave me a place to stay and fed me. Thanks. Blessed are... We used duct tape to fix the ripped carpet. That reminded me of my mother fixing a chair with gum. And that became a running gag. Duct Tape. Duck Tape. Had they used it to fix military equipment during the war ? Yup.
How many times did I fall for the, "pull my finger," trick ? All the time.
When I visited her in Florida, she was having a great time running faster than I did and making a huge heart in the sand, with the words, "I love you." Aunt Arlene, would point out women she thought I should date and I would tell her, she needed to put on her, Nancy Reagan glasses.
She had cancer at the time and was still vibrant. She stated it, "taught her lots of lessons." Most of the time she didn't complain going through the poking and prodding and therapies the doctors performed. It could be I just didn't hear it--I doubt it. We talked about the amazing recuperative powers of the body. Millions of cells die each second and grow back again.
She was great at taking care of other people, whether her children or nieces or nephews or grand children or other seniors.
One time when I was visiting her, she went shopping for what she promised was ten minutes. My mind thought that's what it would be. Capricorn. Being a single guy I was unused to ten minutes becoming an hour and a half; I wanted to hit the beach. Later, I found out she was searching for bargains and things to send to the whole family and friends for the holiday. Like my mom she was thrifty and could turn dust into gold. It was all copesthetic.
In one store, my find was bean toss bags that would shout out various crazy sayings when one would throw them on the ground. It was meant to be anger therapy. It made us laugh. We had great fun with that.
At some point, she asked me to work for her promising, "anything I wanted to eat," even Prime Rib. So for a month or longer that was what I would eat; until one night I could eat it no longer. She gave me a great story to tell for years.
Aunt Arlene, loved when I would remind her of the sign that we saw that said, "No Loitering in the Bushes." We would create joke after joke about this one. That was until she no longer remembered some of our memories. And until she told me she just wanted to be with her family.
My favorite of our stories is when, she made me take her car to the beach. Taking the bus was more my speed. Parking the car in back of a business she worked for when I returned I searched furiously from lot to lot thinking I had misplaced it. Or that it was stolen. It had been towed.
Calling the tow company they informed me they were an hour away and it was going to cost $500 dollars to get the car out of hock. I was afraid to call her and yet what else could I do ? She was calm about the situation and with the help of a business friend, Lourdes, we got the car back, with only a modicum of darting eyes from those hulk like men who towed it.
My Aunt called me and I wasn't feeling well. I joked around that my headache would be gone by the time 60 Minutes would be over.
Another time in a phone conversation, I was talking about my ultimate job coming to my doorstep and sure enough it did exactly as forecasted. It could have been her prayers or kind words or humor that made it all happen. We used to have great phone conversations. Did we always agree ? No.
During one conversation, when landlines were still a thing, she held out the phone so I could hear the rain and told me exactly what time it was going to end. Sure enough it did.
All I wanted to do was make some hotdogs in the microwave and sure enough the phone rang and it was Aunt Arlene. I don't remember what the conversation was about and yet it was in the days that conversation still had meaning, a few moments lasted a bit longer and when I hung up I realized that I had forgotten that I put the microwave setting on for too long.
A fire had started-the microwave damaged; however, with a good cleaning it still worked. Worth it.
Wanting to cheer my Aunt up, I used to think of encouraging songs so that we can both go down memory lane and lighten the mood. One of those songs was A Pocketful of Miracles and another Pennies from Heaven. So one time, I changed the $20 dollars that she had sent me into pennies and sent it to her. She sent me a picture of the bursting envelope.
Mother, grandmother, educator, business person, comic, therapist and Slovak. Cheerleader.
How many roles does a mother play ? How many apple trees from the seeds in an apple ? Running the great marathon of life, very well.
She was one that didn't curse the darkness and instead lit (lighted) the candles of people's hearts and minds.
Her strength and enduring positive nature. Always ready with a smile or sending a card, or a offering a meal. Or ready to test us to remember when she tried to pull our finger for the 20th time. Perseverance against the trails of life. Running the great marathon of life, very well. She has not only been a ripple of hope but an ocean of love and kindness and patience at all times overcoming the odds. She taught me not to use the, "D," word Depression.
The power and grace of one person showing and enlightening others, at times holding them by the hand, and during others gently nudging them onward. Aunt Arlene makes my heart sing. And her legacy is the seed she planted in her children. Who could defeat them? Thank You is never enough. I would need a million days but that is all I have is thanks for her. All words fail now.
"Well done good and faithful servant."