The snow is falling outside and I’m crying.
The warmth of the kitchen stove top and the smell of sausage cooking wraps me up like one of her hugs. She smelled like all the yummy things in life. Onions sauteeing in a pan. Hot fudge sundaes. A great cup of coffee. I’m famous for my deviled eggs, but she is the one that taught me. The first time I made them on my own for a party I took a picture and sent it to my Aunt to show her since she didn’t have her own “picture” phone. “Beautiful” she said!
Just like on my wedding day. She was the one at the front who took my hand as I walked by on my way to the alter. I paused for her. She saw me, in so many ways. And with tears streaming down her face, she shook her head, patted my hands between hers and said, “Beautiful, just beautiful.”
She was the one who always pinched my cheeks too hard when we’d go to visit as a child. But she always followed the pinching and the smooching on the cheeks with a hot fudge sundae which made me not mind so much.
The night before my wedding when my future husband met her for the first time, he asked her if she was married. She said, “Just once.” Then quickly went on to add that she refused to wash the farts out of another man’s underwear. That was Aunty Kay.
She never let you leave without a full plate. She served hungry people all of her life and I don’t think she ever thought of people any other way. I remember at my brother’s graduation party she helped cook. Paul’s music teacher tried to leave the room with what he wanted on his plate, but she didn’t let him. She knew he needed more. That man left the kitchen dropping food off his plate in a trail behind him, and she was smiling.
She was the one who I went to the grocery store with and she drove one of the electric carts. When she almost backed up into a teenage girl who then gave her a dirty look she said, “ Girl you move, you got legs.” Then she sped off to do what she needed to do.
She was the one who prayed for me when I wasn’t sure my life had any hope left in it. She told me that in the moments when she had no one left, God was there for her and he’d be with me too. She was the one who when I married Chris said she had prayed for God to bring that kind of love for me.
She was the one who travelled and knew more people than anyone in the family. She said she wasn’t going to let the grass grow under her feet. And she never did. And she taught me to have fun with this life. To live it well, but enjoy every moment, every meal.
And tonight, tonight I found out that she is probably dying. She turned 102 today. And she was diagnosed with COVID-19, today. I’ve always felt my heart hitch knowing that one day she would be dying and I would be grieving.
But, right now, instead of praying God would let me have her around a little bit longer, I am praying that Jesus would come and take her hand quickly. I hope he will let her gently fall asleep tonight and wake up in his arms tomorrow. I think he’s going to smile at her and say, Kay, you really lived. And she will say yes, and it was beautiful.
(Update May 16) Just like always this woman’s life defies the odds. She beat Covid!!! I love you Auntie. You are such an inspiration. Check out the video from a news station in Milwaukee on Facebook below.