Quarters in Heaven

August 11, 2011 at 6:21 pm Leave a comment

As a kid, we lived down the street from my great-aunt.  Her full name was Lora Mae, but my brother, Dan, and I always called her Aunt Mae.

We often rode our bikes to visit her.  She had been divorced for some time and then widowed when I was young, and she lived alone except for the fattest, most spoiled-rotten dog you had ever seen.  During our visits with Aunt Mae, Queen (the dog) would lean heavily against our legs, begging for a scratch on the rump or a rub of the head.  If the leaning got too bad – Queen was a great beggar – Aunt Mae would banish her to her spot underneath a TV tray, where Dan and I would feed her peanuts.

Aunt Mae was always ready for our visits.  She kept baggies of candy ready for us, filled with M&Ms and peanuts and butterscotch candies.  Hidden at the bottom of the baggies would be quarters, which Dan & I would spend at the arcade while Mom & Dad bowled in their weekly league.

By the time I reached high school, we no longer lived just down the street from Aunt Mae.  However, she was still a major part of our lives.  She remarried while I was a teenager, to a wonderful man named Carol who became her steadfast companion.  Together they attended our birthday parties, concerts, graduations, sporting events.  They were always, ALWAYS early, arriving thirty minutes before any event would start.

She often called me Paula, my mother’s name, but usually realized her mistake quickly and corrected herself.  As far back as I can remember, her hair never changed.  Always the same style, always pinned back.

The past two years were hard on her and her family.  She suffered strokes and needed full-time care.  I took my girls to visit her a few months ago, and she said little, merely taking in all the energy that my girls possess and smiling at me.

Last night she passed away.  And although it’s not a shock and although I know she is at rest and no longer in pain, it still hurts my heart to lose her.  She was a link to my childhood.  And a link to my Grandpa.

I have been given the great honor of being asked to sing at her funeral.  I’m not sure I can make it through dry-eyed but I will sing for her.  And if it rains down M&Ms and quarters that day, don’t be surprised.  She’s just filling up our baggies in heaven, getting ready for the day we come to visit her again.

Me with Aunt Mae & Carol on my wedding day, October 2005.

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Entry filed under: Life in general.

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