An Artist at Play

Good Grief

The past month has been tough to say the least.  My left foot has been turning inwards a lot so I went to a physical therapist to see what was wrong.  She told me I have Dystonia in my left ankle.  My Auntie Lucie, who passed away in July, had Dystonia in her neck.  I just thought to myself, “There is a God and it has a very ironic sense of humor.”  Dystonia just means I’m having extra muscle spasms in my ankle.  I will probably treat it with Botox but I’m waiting to visit a doctor before I make any decisions.

I ended up going to my Auntie Lucie’s memorial with my mom.  We had wonderful conservations in the car and didn’t fight once!  That’s a first for us.  I can’t express how grateful I am that I got to go to Santa Rosa.  Seeing my Auntie Donna after not seeing her for two and a half years was wonderful.  My Auntie Lucie and Auntie Donna were together about 23 years.  They split bitterly about two years ago and I hadn’t talked to Auntie Donna since.  As much as I love Auntie Lucie, I always felt more of a connection with Auntie Donna.  I don’t really know why.  She was very outgoing and funny.  She and I just kind of understood each other without having to say too much.  She loved dogs and parades.  She sang, “I Love a Parade.”  Why she loved parades was never really explained, but I got a kick out of it.  One time, when I went up there, I was probably in middle school, she asked if she could sing me a lullaby because she never had kids of her own.  I let her and spent entire night laughing.

My Auntie Donna’s brother John was there as well as her nieces Suzy and Sarah and Sarah’s husband Drew.  They’re all open, warm, and have great senses of humor.  You can tell they’re not from LA.

The day of the memorial, everyone was a wreck.  We had spent the previous night in the condo that my aunts once shared.  The family sat around bonding over memories of Auntie Lucie.  The day of the memorial was very emotional.  I realized it was the last chapter for Auntie Lucie.  My mom had to give the eulogy.  She was really nervous and didn’t like anything she wrote.  She did a good job though.  She kept it together and she really gave a sense of who Auntie Lucie was.  I wanted to share what I had written in my previous blog about Auntie Lucie.  I wanted to add to that.  Her biggest disappointment in me was that I’m not a lesbian.  She used to tell me all the time that I was pretty and smart and would make a great poster woman for lesbians.  I just don’t swing that way.  Instead, I walked up in front of everyone and said, “I’m Fran’s daughter and Auntie Lucie’s niece.”  And then, I started wailing.  I don’t mean polite, little tears.  I mean I was crying from my gut, really loudly.  I think it was the first time I really let myself do that.  It felt good, but I also felt bad that I didn’t get to share my thoughts.  I think people get the message that she meant a lot to me and I miss her a lot.  John told me the night before, a friend of his who’s a writer says, “Writers write; talkers talk.”  At the party afterwards, I told him he’s right.  Writers write and talkers talk.  It was the first time in my life I could not talk in front of a group.

I left Santa Rosa feeling peaceful.  I was excited that Suzy and I decided to be cousins.  I was looking forward to talking to Auntie Donna more and knowing if I ever wanted to reminisce about Auntie Lucie, I could call her.  Three days later, I got an email from Suzy saying, “Call me immediately.”  I noticed she had emailed my mom, so I called my mom, figuring she had already talked to Suzy.  My mom told me that Auntie Donna died.  I just started wailing again, like at the memorial.  Nick woke up and ran out into the living room, thinking I had fallen.  I can’t believe she’s gone too.  She died of a heart attack, just like Auntie Lucie.  All my hopes of reconnecting with her vanished.  I was really angry.  I think it’s because selfishly I wanted to spend more time with her and I had also just started getting over Auntie Lucie.  Losing someone else so soon was too much to bear, especially since my aunts were so close.  I spent a couple days at home, just hanging around.  I was grateful that I had gone to a storytelling salon the night before and I came home that night feeling like my life was getting back on track.  When Auntie Donna died, I lost it.  I’m feeling better now, but there were a lot of phone calls to Nick at work.  I just felt so sad.  There’s no other way to explain it.  I’m still digesting all that has happened.

I believe that my aunts are together now.  They can finally have the relationship they’ve always wanted because Auntie Lucie is free of pain.  Even though they were separated, when I saw Auntie Donna, I could tell she still had strong feelings for Auntie Lucie.  I find comfort in this.  I like to think they’re happy together and all the problems they had while they were alive are gone.  This is the only way I can move forward.  I still miss them both very much.

Auntie Donna’s memorial service isn’t until the end of the month, so I know I won’t really get closure until then.  I must say, this experience has taught me to appreciate people and life more.  I know that might sound hokey, but that’s all I can say.


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