Across the street from our little “Doll House,”the one with the painted pink shingles, lived one of my father’s six sisters, a few years older than he. Aunt Marge and her husband, Uncle Gerry, sold my parents our tiny abode when my father came back from Florida. He had been discharged from the Air Force. If I hadn’t been born, my father once told me, he would have been sent off to fight in the Korean war. Yes, good things do come in small packages!
Aunt Marge was one of my favorite aunts, the mother of five like my own, who had a great sense of humor and cracked one liners that I only appreciated when I grew old enough to understand them. She was a cookie baker and seamstress at heart, whipping up batches of holiday confections from her imagination that melted on your tongue. If ever you dropped by, her head would pop up out of her oven, elbows full of colored frosting and doughy glory.
When she wasn’t baking cookies she was sewing, often without a pattern. She could take a scrap of fabric and turn it into a ball gown. Often, she did just that! In later years, when my father was the President of the local Board of Realtors, I remember my mother coming down our shag carpeted staircase (a different house by then) wearing a beautiful black velvet, floor length hooded cape surrounded by white marabou feathers. I looked up, my mouth agape in awe as my parents went out for the wintry evening. Looking out the window, I saw snowflakes swirling all around them.
Mom was a beautiful woman. That night she was a “Showstopper,” my father said. Aunt Marge helped make her so. Three years ago, after my mother passed away, I found that velvet cape packed in tissue paper in a box at the back of her spare closet. It had been over 40 years since she had worn it. Still, she could never let it go.
Eventually I would grow to have a very special bond with my Aunt Marge. When I was in my early twenties, her first-born son, Kirk (named after her maiden name), was diagnosed with insulin dependent diabetes. It was the first time I had ever heard the word, d.i.a.b.e.t.e.s. He was my cousin who was closest to me in age, although a few years older than I. We grew up together, played tag, shared stories, sat on our grandmother’s steps at Christmas where we waited for Santa, and hid a nameless aunt’s green jiggling jello under our napkin when nobody was looking.
Aunt Marge was the one who understood how I felt when I called to tell her that my own son who lives with diabetes, had a “bad” day. She listened when I cried, or tried “not” to cry. She understood when no one else did; maybe because they simply didn’t know how. Without words, she gave me courage when I needed it. Most importantly, she had the wisdom to make me believe that everything would be okay. She told me that I was a good mother who was raising a great son. She said that in spite of everything, “Jayson would be fine.” Aunt Marge knew our futures long before I ever did.
I miss her so……