This past weekend would have been my aunt’s 83rd birthday. I always remember how old she is/was because she was exactly 30 years older than me (well really 29 years and 11 months, but who cares). But I always had a hard time remembering the exact date of her birthday. I knew it was at the end of November, but some years it was on or around Thanksgiving, some years as much as a week off.
When she was alive I tried to call often, many times as much as 3 or 4 times a month. She was always interested in talking and listening on the phone, a great combination for someone I love who lives far away. And I usually made sure to call around Thanksgiving, knowing it would be close enough to her birthday. She loved celebrating her birthday, in fact when I think of her, I think of a celebrating kind of gal.
Last time I saw her, before her death, I took a tape recorder, and had her tell the family stories to me once again. One of the many stories I loved to hear was her reaction to finding out I was born and that she was now an aunt for the first time. It was always funny for me to hear this, because by the time I was born, she had 4 children, all under the age of 10. And yet she celebrated my birth and becoming an aunt. When I think back to the days when my two children were young, I became an aunt left and right between my brother and my husband’s brother and two sisters. All of a sudden, the whole next generation was born and frankly I was too consumed with mothering by two to be a special aunt to the other 11 children born in those years. I only had two and she had four and yet she told me how special my birth made her feel to become an aunt for the first time. And because she felt special, she treated me as the cause of that specialness.
This meant I always felt at home and welcome in her home, which was no small feat for me given that growing up, we moved every few years. By the time I was 10, we had lived in 5 places, no one place lasting even a full 5 years. But going to my aunt’s home, was a constant back then to me. It wasn’t my family home, but it was a family home in which I felt wanted and welcomed and cared for. And because my aunt showered me with her love and affection, her kids did too.
But this year, I sort of forgot. At least for a few hours. This year, on her birthday, without realizing it was her birthday, I went to a yoga class and during the quiet meditation time afterwards, when I like to feel my mind and spirit clear and clean and twinkly, I felt a strong pull. Normally when my mind wonders while meditating, I am able to push it aside, but this wasn’t a wondering as much as a strong urge and pulling sensation. And it wasn’t from her so much as from the house, which is now for sale. So I went with it. I allowed myself to be pulled to the family home, in western New York State far away from my new home in northern California. I see distinctly her dining room, the table, the chairs, the drapes the carpet, the homey feel of a loved and cared for family homestead, like an anchor. And then all of a sudden it hit me, like a ton of bricks, decorating the outside of the front of her home, that it must be her birthday. I just knew it was.
Then, like so many days these past 4 months since her death, I yearned to reach out and touch her on the phone. I longed to hear her voice, in that western New York State twang that reminds me of a home, that I never lived in, but always came back to.
Happy Birthday Aunt Moanne. Rest in peace.
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