I'm having a hard time with reality right now. My aunt died this weekend. She's became really sick and we've expected it for the past 2 weeks but when you hear the news, it's always shocking. Well, today as I talked with siblings and my Mom about who was going, when and how everyone was getting to and from St. Johns (SMALL northern Arizona town where my Dad is from) for the funeral - it HIT me! She is my Dad's older sister and the first to go of her generation in my family. Her husband died a couple of years ago, but suddenly. She was 71 yrs old - close to the age my Grandpa was - and very ill. BUT my grandparents are all gone now, so that means my aunts/uncles AND MY PARENTS are the next generation to "go". This is NOT a comforting thing. I'm NOT ready to lose my parents! My Dad is only 65 this year and my Mom a sweet "29" (or 61, for those who are really counting), but that's not the 'young parents' I remember. I remember them when they were MY age! Which in turn, makes me OLD too!!
Although I am very grateful and blessed with the knowledge that this life is just a small portion of our existence. And although the raw and mortal feelings of losing a loved one are real and hurt, I know that I will see her again and that she is enjoying the sweet reunion with her Dad (who she lost when she was only 20) and her Mom and her life-long love (married when they were 16!), my Uncle Kelly.
My siblings and I have such sweet memories of her. We 'lovingly' called her our "Cussin' Aunt". She was a small town gal who was not active in the church for many years. We would go and visit her in the summers on the way to the Homestead. This is more for me but I find them very fun memories of her:
*She had a windchime collection on her patio that we loved to hear in the wind. And it was always windy in St. Johns. (Up between Springerville and ShowLow on the rim)
*She lived at the top of the hill and we would walk down to the Maverick and get a Vanilla Coke. We were not allowed caffeine growing up and so if we could sneak one from Aunt Karen - it was a treat. (Sorry Mom!)
*We would arrive at her home with a BIG welcome! She would start talking and the 'typical' small town cuss words would enter her conversation. My Mom, horrified, would say "Karen, please don't cuss around the kids." To which she would reply, "Oh shit, damn and hell. Now they've heard them and it won't be a surprise." When I played Kate in Kiss Me, Kate, she came to see me. If you've seen the show, the first word that I utter is Bastard! And after that I slapped the man onstage with me. Afterwards, she came up and said "I loved your first word! That's my neice is what I told your Dad. I'm so proud of you!" HA!
*She would always tell us we could hit her back porch fridge anytime for a coke or whatever was out there, "but don't touch Uncle Kelly's beer - he's not good at sharing!"
*She always cooked! Breakfast was HUGE in her home!! And there was always something brewing on the stove - Uncle Kelly made the BEST green chile! YUM!! She introduced me to The Next Best Thing to Sex cake. But she renamed it. "Sex is good, don't get me wrong. But honey, I like to call this The Next Best Thing To Robert Redford." :)She also introduced me to my CocoMotion (hot cocoa machine) which she found after she became active in the church again and gave up her coffee. My kids and I LIVE on this machine in the winters. Her home was inviting, exciting and filled with FOOD and LOVE!
*She was always on the top of the fashion and trends. It shocked me how she could, being that she had to "drive to the valley and go shopping at the MetroCenter Mall". But she was always dressed to the hilt, a high stepper and had all the latest in trends. When cell phone charms were big, she came down to see us and visit my Dad when he was in the ICU (Cancer scare) and I was showing her my charms. She pulled her cell phone out and said, "those are cute but honey you gotta get more . . like me!" She could barely lift her phone it was so covered.
*Before she started going back to church, she used to smoke. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can't stand the smell. It hurts my eyes and gives me a headache. Maybe it was just love, but she never stunk to me. I can clearly remember hugging her and smelling the tobacco and the perfume. . . still brings a smile to my face.
She always made me smile and I will truly miss her! I love my Aunt Karen Mineer and am so grateful for the truth and knowledge that I will see her again someday!!