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Aunt Connie

Got word that Chris’s elderly aunt Connie died last night. Chris is scrambling to see if it’s at all possible for him to make a trip out to Boston for the funeral on short notice. Unfortunately, I’m scheduled to go up to Vancouver this weekend to see Miss Kate perform in Twelfth Night for Shakespeare Camp and then bring her back with me for her week-long visit on Sunday, turning around right away on Monday to head to Portland, where my grandmother (miraculously recovered from her near-death experience earlier this spring) is back for a few days to visit the family. I’m already missing the barbecue being held in her honor by attending Kate’s play, I dare not miss the opportunity to see her on Monday. If Pramas goes home, he’ll be going alone.

I liked my aunt-in-law Connie very much. She was Chris’s dad’s sister and lived closest to them of all his aunts and uncles, so Chris saw her often throughout his life. She was sassy and stubborn, a combination I respect. She was always very sweet to Kate and never failed to come bearing gifts for the girl, which she would gruffly hand over as if she just happened to have an embroidered sweatshirt in Kate’s size or dolls and sweets just laying around that we might be interested in. She was a smoker and hosted my mother (also a smoker) in her home when Chris and I got married and my mother traveled out from Oregon for the ceremony, where the two bonded. Connie wasn’t used to driving herself very often by that time, though she did own a car, and my mother absolutely refused to drive someone else’s car in unfamiliar territory. I watched the two of them square off about who would do the driving to Salem, where my mother wanted to be a tourist, with fascination. Two sassy, stubborn ladies digging their heels in… Connie finally gave in (I just don’t know what tipped the balance, perhaps feeling pressure to be a hostess?) and I took a truly harrowing ride with them as Connie drove dangerously slowly, passed cars and careened through construction areas, and stopped dead in the center of the street just to look around and get her bearings. We were lucky we weren’t killed, though it’s a funny memory looking back from safe retrospect.

We saw Connie briefly when we were back in Massachusetts last Christmas. Unfortunately Macular Degeneration had robbed her of her sight and independence in her last year and she was miserable about it. Connie was no social butterfly and was fiercely independent, purposely gruff and abrasive in order to protect her privacy and fend off the unwanted nattering attention of the other bored, elderly ladies in her building. She read voraciously and it was a terrible blow to her to lose the ability to read, or watch tv, or cook for herself.

Chris and I had Greek food tonight (at the excellent Panos Kleftico, which I’ll post about separately) and toasted Connie.

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