31 days UNFILTERED - aunt jerry

Day 30 The real bummer about yesterday's cat shenanigans (if they wanted a ride into town, all they had to do was ask) was that I spent most of the night coughing and cat luring so when my alarm rang at 5:45am, I knew I couldn't make the 8-hour round trip to Pennsylvania with my mom.

Yesterday my mom and dad visited my Aunt Jerry (my dad's aunt) in Western Pennsylvania. I was supposed to go. But with the no sleep and the ugly cough, I had no business visiting a precious ol' gal in a hospital.

Aunt Jerry was one of the few women who provided for my dad growing up when his own mother could not or would not. All of my "dad's side" memories feature Aunt Jerry, the star of every trip-to-Pennsylvania episode. The baked apple pie on the counter, ready for dinner, the scrapped dough rolled into tiny balls and baked with cinnamon and sugar, a teaser of what was to come. The crinoline petticoats from when she and her late husband used to go square dancing, if you added up all the hours Morgan and I have spent in Pennsylvania, the majority of that time would be us dressed up in those skirts. The hours spent around her kitchen table, all the generations, shoved into her tiny kitchen, the shits and damns flying quick and sideways, never have I heard such an old lady cuss so much. Her under five foot frame, a tiny cannonball of hospitality, opinions, generosity, four-letter-words, and love.

She had been living in a retirement community until recently when her back started to collapse, putting her into the hospital. Her already frail bones breaking, the pain cruel, the prognosis crueler.

My parents made arrangements to visit her, not expecting it to be as bad as it is. A sedated shell of a lady, my mom and dad both devastated by the reality that Aunt Jerry's days are few.

The pain medication kicked in during the final few minutes of my parents visit, gracing my dad with a small gift from his beloved aunt. My dad was giving his cousin, Susan (Aunt Jerry's daughter), his business card so that she would have his contact information. Aunt Jerry wanted to know what he was giving her. My dad told her, and Aunt Jerry insisted, "Read it to me." They did as she asked, and before Susan could tuck it into her purse, Aunt Jerry insisted again, "Put that on my board." She was referring to the bulletin board in her room that displayed the cards she had received during her time in the hospital. My dad reasoned, "But it's just my business card. It's only a bunch of phone numbers." Aunt Jerry didn't care, "I want it on my board."

I wasn't there, but in my vision of the story, I can hear her demand, "Shit, Steve, put it on my damn board."

That's my Aunt Jerry. Fiercely determined to show her pride of her family.

Mom called tonight and said that it's just a matter of days. Hospice has been called and papers have been signed and there's nothing left to do but wait for Aunt Jerry's body to stop.

I'm terribly bummed I didn't get to see her yesterday but then again, I'll always remember her as the tiny ol' spitfire who always greeted me with a quick hug and forever love.

Love you, Aunt Jerry. Get up there, give 'em heck, and dance on those streets of gold.