My Father's sister passed away over the weekend. Aunt Helen was infirm and had been in a combination of retirement homes and nursing homes over the last four years. She was wheelchair bound, mainly because she refused to get out of it and walk around. In the end, I believe she had had enough, stopped eating and set her sites on dying.
She married, but never had children. She was close to her younger sister, Rita and her children. She used to be close with all of us, but that was a longer time ago. Aunt Helen was always a lot of fun when we were growing up. She always had the snazziest cars--one of her big ole Chryslers had that classic, thin chrome steering wheel and a push-button transmission on the dash. One of her cars was Pepto Bismal pink. She was Cool.
And she always made the best cookies for holidays or events. Hundreds of them. The delicious, tedious ones which had to be patiently rolled or wrapped. Yum!
She was full of piss and vinegar, as the saying goes. She was lively and loud. She'd bust into our house unannounced all the time and stir things up...mostly in a good way. I loved it. I'm a huge fan of the drop in still. Sometimes she'd get in a "spirited debate" with my Dad, but mostly she brought life and laughter.
A couple of summers I stayed with her for a week or so when I was 12 and 13. We'd go shopping, get ice cream, drive around. For some reason she had no eyebrows. I was fascinated watching her draw on her arcs one at a time every morning. (Weird what sticks with you) At night she'd tell me stories about the family. I really enjoyed the one-on-one time.
Then something, unknown to us to this day, changed for her. She became sour, angry and unable to reconcile the demons in her past. She became very difficult to be around. The negativity ate away at her. Maybe that's what happens when you get older. You dwell on the regrets and not the positives. I hope not. Judging by Aunt Helen's later life, it's a horrible way to live.
I hope she's happier now.
There were seven siblings...now there's just one.
There will always only be one Aunt Helen. I will forever remember her the way she is in this photo. All duded up. A cocktail in one hand. Cigarette in the other. Full of life and spirited.
May she rest in peace.