Another farewell

About two weeks before Christmas, one of my mom’s sisters suddenly collapsed on her kitchen floor after suffering  a massive stroke.
She was dead less than 36 hours later.
Once again, my family is experiencing grief and coping with the loss of a loved one during the holidays (my dad passed away on New Year’s Eve, 2008).
Once again, our focus shifts from happiness and gift-giving and tinsel on Christmas trees to sorrow and funeral arrangements and tears.
The child in me screams, “Enough already! Turn Death off! He’s too cruel at this time of year.”
But nobody asked for my opinion.
Auntie M. was one-of-a-kind. Clean as a pin, she always had a dishrag in her hands, mopping up someone’s messes, toweling off her already-spotless counters.
Her kitchen was one of my favorite places. The smells wafting around there were enough to melt the cockles of the meanest heart — warm butter (a stick at a time), chocolate chip cookies (mine, without nuts), snow-white divinity, rich and creamy fudge, fig cake cookies (made from an old family recipe).
And you couldn’t get out of her house without at least one colorful round tin filled to the brim with some of those treats!
As if anybody would turn down goodies, fattening or not!
In her younger days, Auntie M. was quite a hoot. We kids would listen enthralled as she and her husband, my parents, and the other siblings and their spouses would gather with their mother (my grandma) around the kitchen table for a rousing game of penny poker.
Oh, the laughter! Oh, the chiding! Oh, sound of coins and cards hitting the table and ice cubes clinking in glasses!
Auntie M. also was quite the fisherwoman. She and her husband had a cabin of sorts along a lake (in addition to their family home), and they loved spending time reeling in fish, which she promptly battered and fried (more yummy smells!)
One of Auntie M.’s favorite expressions was “cotton pickin’.” Only years later did I realize it was her way of protecting us kids from some of the not-so-nice words flying from the mouths of my other relatives!
My mom talked to Auntie M. the evening before her collapse. She said she’d had a wonderful day visiting with her kids and their kids, and she was looking forward to getting together wih my mom over Christmas, to share a few laughs, catch up on old times, and do sisterly things.
It wasn’t to be.
While we mourn for the woman who left us, we rejoice that she’s no longer in pain, that she’s reunited with her beloved husband and parents, and that one day, we’ll see her again.
This is the hope of Christmas, that the Baby lying in the manger came to free us from death and draw us to Himself forever.
Merry Christmas 2010 to all my family and friends!