Saturday, May 19, 2012

My Aunt Irene
I recently lost my Aunt Irene. The funeral was on the 12th of May. Since she lived in Indianapolis, they provided a service for her there on the 10th, before shipping her down to Kentucky and her old hometown. She had been recovering from gall bladder surgery and was in a nursing home, thinking she would be going home soon, but while taking a shower, she took a fall, and death occurred. This was on the 8th of May.
I had lost my sister ten days earlier; and though I loved my aunt, the death of my sister drained most of my tears reserved in  my reservoir, leaving it nearly bone-dry; also, I would rather think of the good times about them both than dwell upon the sad.
This is in honor of my aunt; I have another essay coming in honor of my sister. I feel they both deserve their own piece about what they meant to me, and I will share some of my memories. But I felt I must mention the fact they walked on within a very short time of each other, and I feel that had my sister still been here, alive, there would have been plenty of tears for my aunt. But I know she knows I loved her; it is not all about tears that says how deep love can be.
What was Aunt Irene like?
To know my aunt was to know a fun-loving spirit. In the words of her husband, Uncle TJ Harville, “She loved life and knew how to live it to the fullest.”
I asked Uncle TJ as we stood beside the coffin with Aunt Irene sleeping beside us, “How did you meet?”
He said, “Oh, it wasn’t easy. Her parents didn’t think she should marry. I had to convince them, and she did too.” They celebrated 50 years of marriage, in 2010. They were a devoted couple.
He kept saying, “I thought I would go first.” He was four years older than she.
He also said, “I don’t know what I will do without her. I miss her so much. I think it won’t be long for me.” But he also said, “We don’t know when or how we will go. I sure thought it would be me.”
My aunt was all of four foot and five, maybe six inches tall. But for all her short stature she sure had a lot of spunk. That lady could outdo me in energy when I was eleven. She could go and go; especially if it was something she considered fun.
She loved places like Goodwill’s stores and Salvation Army stores as well as yard sales. She loved to buy what she considered ‘bargains’; but her purchases weren’t always the wisest. I remember when my family lived in Indianapolis, one street over from my aunt and uncle’s place, and we would go ‘Goodwilling’ we would hit the big stores, and as you would go in, they would have these big bags, labeled ‘grab-bags’; you couldn’t see what was in them, and it could be anything. My aunt loved the surprise of what might be inside; and rare was the time she would leave without sinking some money into a couple of these ‘mystery bags’; well, I remember that after three or four times of finding out the contents of those bags, how I, at 10 or 11 years old, lost my zeal for them; but not Aunt Irene. It was like she kept hoping there would be something wonderful in them, instead of hundreds of mismatched socks which had not a single pair you could mate in the whole lot.
My mother would advise her, “Don’t waste your money on them, Irene. They fill them with things they can’t put on the shelf; it is all about a profit.” But she never listened; Aunt Irene was head-strong; she always got her way, and for some reason she believed that every bag had to hold something wonderful.
I think it was the thrill of the surprise in store for her that spurred her on; whatever disappointment she had last time didn’t matter; this time it was going to be great.
Her enthusiasm was contagious. She would sweep in with cheer and be gone in minutes, but leave behind people who were either very happy or totally pissed off; maybe the pissed off ones were jealous that she could breeze around so gaily and not see how miserable life could be sometimes.
She knew I was an artist, and long about the time I was nineteen and going to college, in my first semester, she came to visit. We lived a block from a small corner store, and she was saying how she wanted to make up for missing Christmas with us. She would get us whatever we wanted.
Mama and Aunt Irene went to that store, since it was close by. They brought back some food to eat, as well as things she said were gifts for us. I don’t remember what she gave the others, but I know she handed me a bag and said, “Here’s Christmas, Sissy.” She called Mama, and Aunt Athlene as well as me ‘Sissy’; everybody was her sister even if they weren’t. “I got you art supplies.” She beamed a grin so huge it was blinding.
The package had crayons and a coloring book in it. “We can color together, Sweety.” She giggled. She rushed off to do something else, and I said, “Art supplies are a sketchbook and coloring pencils, Aunt Irene.” My mother gave me a disapproving frown.
I thought how that would have been great about seven years earlier, but not to the college kid I was right then.
But to Aunt Irene, coloring in coloring books was a great art project. She loved putting puzzles together too. She was a big kid who never grew up, even though she got married and aged with the passing years.
That was why her folks had been hesitant to let her marry Uncle TJ. They knew she was mentally on the young side and only when they knew she would be better off having a husband take care of her rather than being shunted back and forth between family members who would keep her until she did something that grated their nerves and they would ship her off to the next family to keep her a few months, did they agree to let her marry.
She was married in 1960; prior to that, she spent several short stays with her brother ‘Uchee’ and his wife ‘Sylvie’ aka Utah and Sylvia, my parents. I was born in 1958. And before she married in 1960, I have several memories of Aunt Irene staying with us.
My first memory that included her was when we lived on Morris Street.
For years, whenever I heard Morris Street mentioned it sounded like they were saying Mars Street; until one day we passed by and they pointed at the place where we lived when I was a baby. Able to read, I said, “That says Morris Street.” I was informed, “Yes, that’s Mars Street.” I concluded it was the same word, it was just that its Kentucky drawl sounded different than its spelling; I also remember when my Uncle Ricky  was married the first time, his wife’s name went from ‘Rita’ to ‘Reeder’ when spoken by Granny Law, her mother-in-law. Since I had taken a speech class in first grade to learn how to pronounce my letters more clearly, I had become more conscious in the benefit of good pronunciation and took some pride in not telling people my name was ‘Jewwiann Waw’. I still to this day sometimes have to spell my name to keep from being called such things as Jo Lynn or Mary Anne, but how people get that out of Jerriann, I think the problem lies in them, not me. Aunt Irene mostly called me Jerri, if she wasn’t saying Sissy. I didn’t mind, too much, although only people very close to me got that privilege; I prefer the whole ‘Jerriann.’
There was a day that Mama took Holly and me, as well as Aunt Irene downtown. We lived a few blocks away, and it was a nice day for a walk. I was in the stroller, it was one of the fifties style, metal, and a dark blue. We had to cross back and forth over the railroad crossing. It was on the way back that something happened that jogged this memory into the groove so that I retain it to this day. It wasn’t my very first memory, but it is one of my earliest and I was only a few months old. I’m not sure if this was before or after my first year birthday, but it was around that time. We didn’t live on Morris Street for very long. I think we moved to Henderson in early 1959, but whether it was before my birthday in March, I can’t say.
We started to cross the tracks just up from the street we lived on.  Since there was more than me in that stroller; it held whatever Mama had bought downtown, too; it was pretty heavy. A wheel got stuck in the tracks. Mama was trying her best to get the stroller lose, jerking back and forth, and then Aunt Irene starting jumping up and down, as she held my sister’s hand, yelling, “Train, the train is coming.” Well, I saw this creature; and it was scary. Big and black, one-eyed and screaming like a black cat, a very angry one; and I started crying, squalling.
Mama wouldn’t grab me and go, she wanted that stroller and me off the tracks; maybe a dumb thing to do, but in that instance she succeeded. Just at the last second, she got it loose, as well as me, in it; and we all rushed to the safety of the other side; none worse for wear, except that it scared me so bad, I couldn’t stop crying. I kept seeing that ‘big black panther,’ just like what Mama kept on the coffee table, only so much more gigantic. I knew, even as that squalling baby, it just about chewed us up for lunch. I had flashbacks for days after that; nightmares, and then gradually, it just phased into a memory as other life experiences came along.
Well, my Dad worked as a lineman, and he had been spending weeks at a time away from home, leaving Mama to fend for herself with two little girls; that was why she welcomed Irene to come stay with us; it would help free her up from constant baby watching while she did her chores, plus Irene could help with that some too. And they did give her some pocket money.
When we moved to Mrs. Melton’s apartment on Main Street in Henderson, at first Irene wasn’t there, but after awhile, she begged them into allowing her to come stay; she got tired of being at her parents’ house and wanted a change of scenery.
Mama welcomed her there, even though it meant another mouth to feed, but since she could get Irene to help her with us, and maybe ease her burden, she was fine with it, and as long as Irene behaved and minded her and Daddy, then it was okay for her to be there.
She would come for a few weeks; and at first it would be pretty good, but then Irene would start acting up, doing  mischievous things that upset Mama and finally Daddy would agree, she had wore out her welcome, and back home she would go.
Irene would kiss old guys on the street for a nickel or dime; they thought it was funny to see her pucker for a kiss; when Holly told Mama what Irene was doing, Mama would steam and tell Daddy who laughed like it was the funniest thing, but Mama said ‘no good would come of it.’ She told Irene she ‘better stop it or one of them would ask her for more than a kiss one day and did she want to end up in a ditch, dead, for stupidity?’
She had some friends; one was a young fella, Billy Joe, who had gotten sent to reform school, and she had the hots for him. Her running around in his company was very much against my Mama’s wishes. Irene got to slipping off to be with him, and  sometimes, she would leave five year old Holly to tend after me, when Mama had left us in the care of Irene, who was around 22 or 23 at the time, but acted more like a ten or twelve year old. The young guy was the son of the lady who lived in the other apartment, her name was Rosie, and I loved Rosie. ‘Billy Joe, though, was a punk’, Mama said, ‘and he would hurt Irene.’ She didn’t trust him.
One evening, a cop arrested Billy Joe on the sidewalk out front. We saw it from the window. Irene started freaking and Mama had to grab her and clamp her hand over her mouth; she wanted to run down there and stop that cop, but instead she got a resounding face slap from Mama who told her she was an ‘utter fool.’ I never saw Billy Joe again; he must have done a more serious deed that jailed him.
After that, Irene went back home, but she came back a few months later.
A few other things, I remember. One was when Irene would talk Holly into playing a game called ‘Jail’ and that required us as the prisoners and she was the guard. The bars were the rails on the end of our parents’ footboard. They had a metal bed. We would press our faces against the bars and she would feed us bread and a cup of water. Or deny it if we were ‘bad’; one time, playing this game, I pushed forward and got my head stuck in between two of the rails, and by the time I was released, it felt like my ears were half torn away from all the tugging Irene had attempted, before Mama came in to find out why I was crying so much.
Irene was forbidden to play that game with us anymore. She did like to do dress-up, and I think she is the one got Holly into liking to play dress-up games; I remember one day when I was four I finally told my sister ‘no’ for the first time ever. I will go into that memory in Holly’s story, so I’ll hold that thought.
Irene would get in a ‘house cleaning’ mood, which mainly involved the kitchen cabinets. And this would be when Mama was busy elsewhere; so it was this big thing to Holly and me, how Mama was in for a big surprise. True, but not a pleasant one, because Irene did this same thing more than once, and every time she would lose steam, lose interest and go running off with her friends, for just a minute, she would tell Holly; Mama would get back find us alone; a bad thing; but the messed up kitchen would really blow her top. She would be ready to chew Irene up and spit her out; she was that angry.
Repentant, Irene would swear never again to leave ‘the girls’ alone or make a mess and leave it before it was finished up. Promises she couldn’t keep and Mama knew it, but she had to accept it anyway.
And there was the day it finally stuck in my head that people could lie and that I could be blamed for it. It was one of those epiphany moments; and it was a shock to me.
Mama had a very pretty clock that Daddy had bought her and brought it back with him, when he was discharged from the army. It was a clock the likes of which I have never seen one like it again, in my life. I think it must have been fairly rare; for sure it was here in the states. It was made of china, not a very big clock, maybe ten or twelve inches tall. Dainty, a kind of pendulum run clock, but the unique part was it had a little china girl in a swing. She would swing on the hour; I’m not sure if she also swung on the quarter hour or half hour, but for sure she did every hour, and I liked to watch it, for she was very pretty, and I marveled over it.
Well, Mama kept it on the mantel over the fireplace; it was a high mantel; Irene could not reach it from just her standing on tiptoe; so she decided, under the guise of dusting that she would get up there closer because she wanted to touch it. When she was on the chair she was reaching out and somehow her grip was bad, and the clock slid and crashed on the floor, hitting the hearth and smashing into so many pieces there was no fixing it back together.
Mama heard the noise and rushed in from the kitchen; she took in the whole room in a fast scan; I was on the floor over by the window; and there was the chair and there was Irene nearby; but then Aunt Irene blurted out, “Jerriann did it.” And Mama went into a fiery inferno; it was a fearful sight.
Grabbed her by her hair, she started slapping Irene, not just for breaking the clock, which was one of the few things Mama had she truly loved and considered priceless, a treasure, but because Irene had tried to blame me, and her lying  to her made her angrier than ever.
If she had shown remorse and admitted she did it, Mama would have taken the loss easier and not been as upset, sorrowed but not that angry; I know this because I heard Mama talk about it later and that’s what she said.
I remember how my mouth fell open when Aunt Irene said my name and that I broke it; I know too, the only reason she tried to say it was me was because five year old Holly wasn’t there and I was. I think Holly had been with Daddy at the time; she would sometimes go with Daddy to the store; not sure where she was at that particular time, but she wasn’t there when the clock fell, because I was a bad choice to blame, being as I was learning to walk about then, and not able to move a chair, climb in it and then up to the mantel still more feet over my head; I think it would have been difficult for Holly, too, at five years old; so Irene was the only one who could have pulled it off, and she was the one, because I watched her, not guessing what was about to happen.
Mama cried about that loss, and Irene knew she had earned Mama’s wrath.
She played cool a little while, because she didn’t want to be sent home; for the most part she liked to stay with my parents; she had fun there in Henderson, and back home it was endless chores. She didn’t mind helping out some as long as it wasn’t an all day long thing, she wanted to spend time with her friends; she was a big ‘little’ kid, after all.
The apartment we lived in was in a really old building that was built either in the late 1800s or the early 1900s; the upstairs had been turned into apartments. We had the front apartment, and Rosey and her family lived at the back. There was a skylight and it was over an open area that looked all the way down to the first floor where Mrs. Melton lived, and also ran a sewing and notions shop.
Irene loved the circus entertainers, especially the tight-rope walkers and the flying trapeze artists. Well, one day Irene got it in her head she was going to walk all the way around the railing and come back, and she did it a time or two, but then she had to throw in a twist to this; she grabbed me and got her chair in place and up she went; Holly went and got Mama and when she saw Irene with me on that railing, she about had a stroke. She was saying, “Irene get down from there now; you will fall and kill my child.”
Irene had been laughing, but when she saw that Mama was so upset, and didn’t agree that this was a cool tight-rope balancing act kind of trick, but instead was a ‘fool stunt,’ she froze and then her ankles did begin to jiggle, and seeing Mama made me want down, so I think we did come close there for a few seconds, but Mama managed to get close enough that she grabbed hold of both of us and pulled us down to safety. She was so relieved, she hugged us both, but later when Daddy got home and she told him, he was not so delighted by the news.
This time, they both agreed Aunt Irene had gone too far. They would take her home as soon as they could get the money for a trip south; but before that happened, yet another memory occurred and this one was even a bit more ominous, if that’s possible.
I remember this incident because of the long wait and the frustration, even fear my mother had, and it stuck in my memory. It started off a seemingly fun and relatively harmless event. It was late summer and the town had a fair and there were rides set up. Cotton candy, hot dogs and drinks were for sale.
There was one attraction that Aunt Irene was totally excited about. It was called the Haunted Mill. At the top of this wooden contraption, painted with spooks and big goofy country bloke type millers with sickles in one hand and handfuls of wheat in the other, while bales of hay were banked around the bottom in piles, along with corn shuck displays,was a catwalk balcony. Everything had a garish splash of red paint spotted to resemble blood. My mother, at first, refused to go in the place.
But with much coaxing, Mama agreed, taking me and Holly, too. My sister was to stay close to Aunt Irene because most of the walk around inside was done in the dark or with red filtered bulbs. As soon as we were out of there, my Mother only then let her tight grip on me loosened; she told me I had been a good girl because I hadn’t cried, but for her one trip in was enough.
 Aunt Irene wanted to go back in with Holly, but Mama said, “No, Irene, we need to go home.”
Irene pleaded; and finally Mama gave her enough money for one more ticket, but no, my sister wasn’t going along. So she went in with some others in line, a couple of the girls Aunt Irene knew. We watched them go in at the Haunted Mill doorway which was boarded so it looked slanted. This time she went in, and we watched for when she would come out near the top and in view while on the balcony cat-walk type protrusion, which stretched a few feet, before going in the door that had the circular flight of stairs that led down to the ground.
Here is where it got scary, because the people Irene went in with made their rounds inside and came our on that balcony and we watched for Irene, and she wasn’t with them and they went across, giggling like everything was fine, and then in the door that had the steps down to the exit, but as they all came out, none of them was Aunt Irene; well, Mama got worried. She ran over and asked those girls about Irene, they said, “Oh, wasn’t she before us?” But no, she told them if she had been then she would be with her and she wouldn’t be asking them. Oh it made Mama mad, but she was worried too.
“I’m not leaving until I find Irene,” she swore, so she went to the guy at the door and demanded to know where her sister-in-law was. At first it was this head-shaking.
“They’ve all left, and I’m shutting this down for the day. Maybe she slipped off with a friend; go home; she’s probably already there.”
“No, she knew better than to do that. I was waiting and she knew it. If you don’t go in there and find her I am getting the police over here.” She meant it, and he knew it.
Seeing her fiery face, red hair and angry green eyes and the claws she was beginning to curl out toward him, the dude backed off. “Hold on, let me go look. If she’s not in there, I’ll get the police for you; I certainly don’t want nothing bad happening in connection to my funhouse.” So he told her to stay there with me and my sister and he disappeared inside.
It was a while before the man came out, and he had Irene by the arm. She was disheveled and holding her head. The man said he found her on the floor and thought she must have hit her head; we took her home and for a while she acted strange; her energy seemed sapped, she didn’t want to go out with her friends, was rare to get out of bed; she had bruises on her arms as well as her head; just what had happened to her remained a mystery because she wouldn’t tell Mama or Daddy, or anybody; she said she didn’t remember. If it was that somebody jumped her, hurt her in there or if it was an accident she did on her own, whatever the truth, we never knew; and depending on the true severity of it, maybe it was a blessing Irene couldn’t remember, either.
Once she began to improve, she told them she wanted to go home and she went. Sometime after that we moved; first to Payne’s and then to North Alvis Street. I turned three there and Holly started in the first grade. Aunt Irene came to visit with Uncle TJ Harville; either just before they got married or right after. This would have been either still in 1960 or in 1961; when it comes to dates, I’m not so good at recalling exactly; but I do know we moved there from the Payne house just after thanksgiving and had Christmas there in the new house, which Mama and Daddy decided they would buy.
After that, a period of several years went by. And it was after we moved to Indianapolis when Charles was like 2 to 3 years old, that I have memories with Irene and Uncle TJ, in their house near Beech Grove, a sub-burg of Indianapolis, Indiana.
We stayed at their house a few days, until a place could be found to move; I never understood why my folks moved so far downtown that it was the once opulent old side of town we ended up living. Mama had a couple of brothers down that way, but still not that close to where we moved.
Anyway, when we moved again, it was to a house owned by some people named Underwood; they had all four of the houses on the north end of Oakland Avenue. This was one street over from the street Aunt Irene lived on.
I won’t go into every iota that included Irene in it; there are too many to cover in a short space. I will just say that she certainly was colorful; and her actions much bigger than her size.
She had both a loving nature as well as a spiteful side to her. She would hurt my mother by going by in front of our house with Mama’s two nieces and others in tow and sometimes ignore that Mama was standing in the yard; she also would make like she wasn’t home when she would be in her house and either Mama and her three children came over, or maybe my sister and I had come over, usually because Mama had sent us. We would hear the whispering, maybe giggling and the ‘Shh’ remarks; it made us get so we wouldn’t go visit them; the message was clear; she didn’t always welcome us.
 After the time she talked Mama into letting us come help her to clean her house, and then when TJ got home she threw a fit and said we were ‘messing-gommers;’ saying she had worked all day, house-cleaning, and we were trying to mess it up; that was when we had started to sit on the couch, but Uncle TJ knew she had used us, and then lied, trying to claim she did it on her own. He didn’t say a thing about him knowing the truth of it; just said we had better go home now; and the money we had been promised, we never received; that was it for my sister; by then I was 11 and she was 14 and she was getting tired of people with ‘two-faced’ ways.
One day, they were having a big to-do at their house and several kin on both sides were there. The yard was full; they were planning a BBQ; not sure if it was Memorial Day weekend or 4th of July or something else. I just remember that Charles had been standing on their little porch stoop and suddenly there’s a huge fight breaking out over my little brother having pushed  our little cousin Patty Sue off the porch; I saw it but did no good; he was guilty according to all of them. She lost her balance; he was on the other side not even looking at her at the moment, and then it was pandemonium when the crying started; and Charles was still standing on the porch, which made them all suspect he shoved at her.
My daddy had to step into the cat-fight and break it all up; but after that Mama was ready to go home. She didn’t want to talk to her nieces or two sister-in-laws or any of them; and I told her what I saw and she was really upset then. Blaming her boy when he was innocent, but then that was right up Aunt Irene’s alley, Mama said, referring to all these past days.
But there were some good memory was one time when we were with Mama over there.  On the TV I watched a show that gave me nightmares that night. It was the movie with Bette Davis and Olivia DeHaviland set in Louisiana at one of the fine plantation houses that still remains down there. Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte; I recognized it at age eleven as being a Classic Horror movie, although I didn’t know how to describe it like that back then.
I was impressed with it, because we had lived down there and I had seen moss draped trees and big houses like that and heard the dialect of the people, and ate its food and gone to school and walked the streets; it was a place that won my heart; to this day I love Louisiana and miss it.
But on top of this, the story was about an axe murderer and Bette Davis played the killer, Charlotte; she killed her lover at a party her father was having; but she had spent a long time in the asylum, and was finally back home, and improving; she was an heiress, and would inherit a good sized bundle plus the house.  There was a song, very haunting, a tune played on the piano; Charlotte could play it, but sometimes at night she would hear that song and go down in time to see a man, the one she thought she had killed; she started believing the ghost of her former lover was playing the piano; but every time she got down the stairs, he would already be gone; her cousin, Olivia, had returned from somewhere, too, and she would be the support-buddy, acting compassionate. The story grew more suspenseful as it reached the end, having a twist that revealed the truth about the mystery of that night.
Olivia had played the long suffering friend to Scarlett O’Hara and the wife of Ashley, Scarlett’s secret love interest. In Gone With the Wind, all the way through the story Olivia’s character had been meek, humble, gentle, kind, generous and enduringly loyal; she has everyone’s sympathy and she was a big part of the reason people disliked Scarlett, because they were so different. This was one of both my mother and Aunt Irene’s favorite shows and she had gone with us to the drive-in in Henderson. So when she saw that Olivia as well as Bette was in the show she wanted to watch it; she got a surprise how scary Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte was, and so did my mother and sister. We all sat there on the edge of our seats or hugged and jumped in the scariest parts; such times as this was some of the best moments.
Uncle TJ loved fishing, so one time; he talked Daddy into going with him a few miles North, outside of Indianapolis to the Reservoir and Mississinewa Lake; it was our family and Aunt Irene and Uncle TJ; that was one of the best ever times; they rented a cabin; we fished, hiked, cooked out, I got a sunburn from the light reflecting off the lake. I was wearing a black dress with a purple violet like print on the border and I remember that was the first time I felt truly ‘pretty’; Mama took one picture of me in that dress where I walked along the side of the road with these big trees like a forest beside and behind me; but others would say, 'girl, you bloomed that day.' It was truly one of the finest times we ever spent with them.
We ate the fish caught by my dad and uncle; Daddy wasn’t much into fishing but he had an uncanny way of out-catching anybody he went with; he would say, “Don’t get mad; I don’t try to outdo anybody; fish just love the fly to my pole best.” It was all in good humor.
 I tried to fish too, but my catch was nothing that stands out, not like me in that violet dress. I was 10 and maturing; already starting to fill out my tops, on my way to becoming a young woman. Strange that it was on that fishing trip I found myself truly being glad I was female.
Wasn’t too long after that, my maternal grandmother passed away; something that broke my mother’s heart, and she never truly got over losing Granny. We had to travel back down home; stayed a few days, and then returned as soon as the funeral was over; the school didn’t like that I had been going about four or five days, but Mama came in herself and explained about the loss; I had quite a bit of homework to catch up on, and so did Holly at her school; because Daddy and Irene’s aunt Eula Mae was married to Mama’s brother Earl, which in an in-law way, made Mama their Aunt by marriage and Granny a Great-Aunt; Aunt Irene and her husband as well as a number of others on Daddy’s side came to the funeral in September,1968. That was 44 years ago.
Aunt Irene had a full life, with many fun events laced into her life; much I never knew about; in her later years, she developed Arthritis and had back problems, added on some extra weight; I think too she was diabetic. She had a surgery or two and came thru with a rebound that is typical of us Law people. But then came the gall bladder surgery that put her in a nursing home about the same time as my sister. Aunt Irene made it to the 8th of May, ten days after my sister passed away. Her husband took the blow well; but he was truly grieving; he loved his little woman; her sister, my Aunt Athlene said on the way to the funeral, “well brother, it’s you and me; we will have to watch after each other; sissy would have wanted us to.” He was just stunned by her loss, missing her so much. They let me ride with them as I had no other ride. I had been dropped off there by my brother and his wife. Patty Sue, Aunt Athlete’s oldest daughter, drove her mother’s car, behind the hearse to the cemetery.
Ther service went well; I ended up sitting on top of my Aunt Shirley’s grave, theirs was next to The plots TJ had purchased for them, a few years earlier; they already had a headstone too; whereas both Uncle Jesse and Aunt Shirley had only name holders; their three kids have not provided this for them, but maybe soon they will. Larry stood by me; he was the one took me home. Just before we were to leave Uncle TJ wanted his wife to have a light; she never liked the dark; always had a nightlight; maybe a flashback to that Haunted Mill incident? I said to Patty Sue, “Jesus is the light, you know.” She nodded, “yes, but TJ wanted her to have it; I put it in her hand.” That was an act of kindness, to placate her husband; showing their love. Goodnight, Irene.
I will miss you. I love you, yes, goodnight, Aunt Irene; no more bedbugs to bite. No more pain.
Did the flashlight lead you on the sacred path? I hope so. But greater is the light of the soul.
©May 16th , to the 18th, Jerriann Law


  1. Well it seems Irene was an important part of your life and even if the tears didn't flow as much as they might, this highly personal piece of your memories of her, says it all. I'm sure those in her life will appreciate your detailed sentiment of her here greatly. Sorry for your losses of late.

  2. thank you, SP, i hope they will appreciate my honesty; and not be mad i showed all sides to Aunt Irene as I remember it; as well as my mother who was a strong figure in my life with a temper that my aunt tasted a few times, all justly earned; i hope that is evident; mama loved Irene; everybody who knew her, loved her.

  3. I always think that when a person dies that all sides of who they were should be mentioned, I always do; not just focussing on the good bits, but portraying, and remembering who they were in life.