Death. It’s a natural part of life. And perhaps as a former hospice nurse, I came to see death as even more natural. Yesterday, we celebrated the life of my great Aunt Dot. As my grandfather’s sister, she was my great aunt, not just a great aunt (ya’ gotta listen for the inflections….).
To quote my own toast to her:
She was a beauty and she was bawdy. I saw her nearly every day of my life growing up. And I would stop by her house many times – oh, she lived miles away (uh, it was half a mile as I found out today). Everything is smaller once you grow up. Except her. She was larger than life then and still is. To Aunt Dot.
Oh, she was a character. She and my mom were best friends – for something like 40 years. I suppose with that relationship, I saw something of her that many of her younger relatives did not see. She had very practical advice on life and never hesitated to dispense free of charge. Some of it, I could not share in polite company (she really loved men with big feet!). And her guidance on how to tell a skirt is too short is quite accurate, but thoroughly burlesque.
She was a natural redhead and gave life to the rumors. She had a laugh that could light up a city and she could outdrink the vikings – I always saw her as a Valkyrie godmother. She loved good times, good food, and bad boys. But she was a southern lady to the tips of her toes. Some may take offense at my perceptions of her. But they are my perceptions and I mean no disrespect. Lord knows if I did, she’d take me to task for it, even now!
She worked all her life. And most of it was at Lockheed. She was a riveter. So when you think of Rosie the Riveter – that was Aunt Dot. Strong arms might be part of it, but frankly, strong legs were the most important. She was up and down a ladder, 100 times a day, riveting planes. And she did that until she retired.
And if she did something, she did it 200% – loving, living, laughing, and well, grudges. She could hold a grudge! She was a red head after all. But again – she loved. So while she might be mad at you, if she loved you, you would be forgiven. If someone hurt you – she took up her war ax and went to battle. Sometimes, she took the enemy on headfirst and sometimes, they’d never know who she knew (and she knew many) and where their downfall started. No prisoners.
I see her having personified this quote by Hunter S. Thompson:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!”
Aunt Dot – the passing of an era. A great lady. Beloved. I’ll miss you.