This weekend I was reminded of the hard part of coming from a large family. While it’s usually awesome to have 89 people on the Hill side and (soon to be) 18 on the Dickenson side, it can lead to a lot of heartache when someone passes on. Statistically speaking, we face death more often than others.
This morning, I got a text from Mama letting us know that Aunt Margie had passed away. We’ve known this was coming, as she had suffered from respiratory and pulmonary issues for years. Several times we’ve been told she was at death’s door and she pulled through. A few weeks ago, we were told she might not make it through the week. Brian and I went to visit her and found her up, active, and talkative. She left the hospital on borrowed time, and everyone knew that time was short. This morning it ran out.
While I can appreciate the fact that Aunt Margie is out of pain and finally at rest, the hole she leaves here is gaping. She personified everything “Hill” to me: she was an amazing cook who could feed a family (or several) with no money and few resources, she sewed and crocheted as easy as breathing. She spoke her mind but fiercely protected her own from any one else’s judgement. She endured loss and illness while keeping her sense of humor.
There are no words to explain how much we’ll all miss Aunt Margie. When I was trying to think of how to quantify this loss this morning, so much came to mind…..
Anytime I’ve ever taken food to a family gathering, I’ve hoped (not so secretly) for approval from Aunt Margie. A head bob over my cake once left me happy for a week.
I sat down with Aunt Margie one Thanksgiving and asked her how to make her famous ham pot pie. It’s….oh, my goodness…..look up ‘comfort food’ and just look at that picture. We sat for 15 minutes while she explained how to make pot pie….and I still have no idea. It was amazing just to hear. She walked me through the entire process, and it should have made perfect sense. One step was “make dough”. I know how to make five different types of dough from memory alone, and not one of them leads to pot pie. Needless to say, I still have no idea how to make pot pie.
After she referred to her fancy, flower-covered cane as a Ho Stick, I’ve used the term as often as possible.
Just two weeks ago, I said I needed to talk to her about knotting a comforter. I never got the chance.
I’ll never forget listening to her and Brian talk about the Cowboys and give the Redskin-loving nurse a hard time when we visited her in UVA. On the way home Brian and I decided to invite her to either our house or Mama’s to watch a wrestling pay per view because she would have loved it. We never got to do it, but I wish we had.
When we had to leave to get home to give the cat her insulin, Aunt Margie asked how much insulin for a cat cost. Hearing it was only about $40 every few months, she said she needed to tell Uncle Roy to be a cat.
Aunt Margie said one of the most profound things ever: “There’s no use being mad about something that’s already happened.” I’m trying to remind myself of this daily.
Over Christmas 2009 Aunt Margie was near death. She recovered, and we went to visit her. She said “I woke up and everyone was standing around my bed and crying. I said ‘Sh!t, I must be in rough shape!'” She decided to get better instead.
Every visit to Aunt Margie led to laughter, and she could talk to a post. Two weeks ago she got to meet her fifth great-grandchild, and I’m so glad she did. This week we’ll gather to say goodbye to Aunt Margie, and the entire family could use your prayers. She leaves behind one husband who loved her dearly, one daughter, one son, their spouses, four grandchildren and their spouses, five great grandchildren, two sisters, three brothers, their spouses, and on the Hill side alone approximately 17 nieces and nephews, 21 great nieces or nephews, and something like 6 great-great-nieces or nephews. It all adds up to 89 people, when you do the math. Every single one of us will remember her forever.