Aunt Mary

This is how I know for sure that there was no Rapture on Saturday. This woman is still on Earth –


This is Aunt Mary. You can call her that. Everybody does.

Aunt Mary is my great aunt on my dad’s side. She lived about two blocks over from us throughout my entire childhood and, when my mom went back to school after my parents’ divorce, Aunt Mary was pretty much our constant guardian. She never had kids of her own. She took care of everyone else’s. Not just us, but sometimes the entire town. One of my favorite stories from junior high is when my best friend, Amanda, tried to cut a friend’s hair and butchered it and they didn’t have any adults at home to drive them down to the hair cuttery so they went to Aunt Mary.

That pretty much summed her up. Everybody knew that they could depend on Aunt Mary to be there and to help them out if she could. Because that’s just what Aunt Mary did.

There is a line in the play Bottom of the World that says “Do you know how much you have to love someone to take them for granted?”

That kind of sums Aunt Mary up too.

Sometimes you don’t know how good something in your life is until you are removed from it. At some point when you are older, and hopefully a little wiser, you look back on it with an understanding that you didn’t have before.

I’ve always had this memory of Aunt Mary. In the memory, I am in the hospital and I’m very, very sick and the room is huge and white and I have all kinds of tubes coming out of me. And Aunt Mary walks in and she has this little ladybug toy and she puts it on the tray table.

I was certain that this memory was bunk, because I was 2 and 3 when I was in the hospital that sick and the room looked too big and it was strange that I was the only one in it. But in a recent conversation with my mother, I told her about the memory and that I thought it probably wasn’t real, because I was so young to have remembered it, and she told me the room was huge and that I was so sick they didn’t put anybody in the room with me.

That doesn’t necessarily make it a real memory. Though, if it is, it is my first real memory. At any rate, Aunt Mary gifted me with a ladybug in some form or fashion for nearly every birthday after that. In fact, I knew how in decline Aunt Mary was when she asked me what I wanted for Christmas the last year that she was in her own house and I told her I’d like a ladybug and I could tell that she didn’t remember why.

Sometimes you realize what you had when it changes and is no longer what it once was.

On Thursday, Aunt Mary turned 91. She forgets people’s names. She can’t drive. She lives in a nursing home now. Sometimes she thinks her parents are still alive. The house, the one that she lived in her entire life, was just put on the market. As hard as that is for us, I know that it is not only hard for us. Because, in one small town in nowhere Ohio, Aunt Mary was a part of a lot of people’s lives.

Where will those people go now when they get a hack haircut and need a ride to the salon?

Shawna summed it up best on Thursday when she said “Everyone should have an Aunt Mary.”


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