It's been one week today since Auntie Vi died and bink & I went down to the Milwaukee-area to say good-bye to her home and friends there.
THANK YOU, all who offered condolences.
Being connected to living people helps a lot right now (even if I'm not keeping up with responding very well).
I toast you with pumpkin-spice coffee in my new speckled ceramic mug--a gift from Vi's basketball coach neighbor, Lance, along with the scented coffee beans.
Vi's neighborhood is (was? is) potpourrish, even the guys. They'd like Mown Grass air-freshener. (One of her neighbor friends told me he mows his grass on Mon-Wed-Fri and sometimes Saturdays--mows a different direction each time.)
Her neighbors were the sort of people who might vote for Trump, some of them;
but (or "and") would help their neighbor die at home, including staying up all night nursing her through her final hours, as Vi's neighbor-family Sheri, Cindy, and Lance did.
This is the obit I wrote for Vi, with her friends in mind.
Some of the photos of Vi's life I screencapped from the funeral home site:
- Top row, left: with her brother Tony, home from the Navy at the end of WWII
- Top, right: Marrying Gil, 1958
- Bottom row, left: wearing a green dress she sewed herself to a wedding, with an uncle and her mother, my grandmother
- Bottom, right: Last summer, 2020––pulling down her Covid face-mask––with sunflowers, the signature bloom of Leos
The first day back home, I was too wiped out to go to work like I'd planned. But by mid-afternoon I felt floaty and unmoored. Luckily Marz came over later and pulled me down from where I was bobbing along the ceiling.
Vi had always been an anchor in my life--I'd visited her regularly since I was eleven--and since twenty-six, usually with bink, who Vi called her niece too.
Vi was a stable personality; when I was a teenager, there were times I thought she was boring. (I was comparing her to my mother, but who can compete with a charismatic, narcissistic Scorpio? Not an insult, just a description, or even a compliment...)
My auntie was a Leo--a steady supply of sunshine-y personality.
I miss that, even though I used to wish she could see more shadows and complexity.
We would email almost every morning, and I'm still getting flashes of what to write--usually something about the weather, which is plenty un-boring this time of year.
"Seems to be an early fall," I'd have written this morning.
"I'm sitting here on the porch wearing a jacket and scarf, covered with the lap rug you knit from yarn you spun yourself. It still smells like your house--sort of warm and woody, and I feel wrapped up in your love-–now and forevermore, as you used to sign your emails."
I worry this post could sound slightly insulting, but my point is it was exactly my auntie's predictable, protective love that I cherished so much, and I miss her in a way I've never missed either of my parents, with a plain old uncomplicated grief.
Socializing and working and generally keeping busy aligns me with life in the world. I have a bunch of things lined up, more than I'd usually like.
So that's good.
Vi always carried on, with cheerfulness and courage.
I do that too. If that's a little bit boring quality, I am nothing but grateful I've inherited it.