Aunties can see our point of views sometimes better than our moms. They can step outside of the box and see both sides when children are in conflict with their moms. They can nurse the wounds we sometimes feel inflicted on us by our moms. They know best about their sister’s character flaws. They do not judge nor condemn.
My Aunty Lee. A very clever woman; perhaps not with schooled education, but street-wise. She was a lover of life and her family, a woman who wore her battle scars bravely. She was the second youngest of six siblings. My aunt stood by and buried them all – all much too young to die, including herself. She also buried a husband at a young age and fended for herself and children and only a few short years ago, she buried her son who suffered terribly with Crohn’s disease, a dreaded bowel disease that four cousins, including myself inherited somewhere down the line from dysfunct genes.
I never heard her complain, nor question the griefs she had lived through. A true testament of a woman of strength. Never afraid to speak up when she found an injustice. That was my Aunty Lee. She never condemned, nor condoned me or my siblings for not talking to our mother, her sister, for she had tasted that wrath many times herself, yet never walked away.
The last brave thing I remember her doing was only a few months ago when we were sitting shiva for my mother after she passed, an old friend of my mother’s had come to pay her respects and when she snubbed her nose at me and my sister as though we didn’t exist for no longer being in our mother’s life, my aunt spoke up. She told her that we are all in mourning together, no matter what our differences were and not to make judgments on us, for nobody else has walked in our shoes. I was touched beyond belief. The woman left.
That was the last brave thing I remembered before my aunt hadn’t been feeling well with stomach problems. She went to the doctor who had ordered up a colonoscopy. That revealed a blockage she went a few weeks later to have rectified by laproscopic surgery. Only then when they looked inside, they decided to close her up when they found a multitude of stomach tumours plus ovarian cancer. The next day they sentenced her with a few weeks to live.
I’d been to visit her several times. To look at her one wouldn’t even know she was sick. Her spirit was good, we shared true laughter – and intermittently we shared tears. “I don’t want to die” she said. In her next breaths, she proceeded to tell me her plans to finalize things and prepare for the next world as though sharing a nonchalant story.
Who does that? Who goes in for a test and a minor surgery and has the grim reaper give them a death sentence and yet carry on so stoicly in their moments of fear? My Aunty Lee does, and she did. She was brave through it all, while she kept us sane, always with a smile.
They sentenced her with three weeks to live in January, and she soldiered on until today, Thursday June 4th. The last female standing of the strong matriarchal lineage. Now the torch to keep the family binds are handed down to me, my sister and two female cousins.
God has rested your soul Aunty Lee. You are with your son and so much family we have lost through the years. We will miss you terribly, but we know you will watch over us from above.