My Aunt Priscilla died almost 20 years ago. She had a vibrance that captured anyone within her radius. Her middle name was Apollonia, but let’s just keep that among us, shall we?
To me, she was always fearless, or appeared to be, and I told her. She assured me she wasn’t. An example she shared was how the bedrooms and bathroom were divided by a parlor. No biggie, right? Wrong. The parlor was used for viewings and wakes when relatives died. She recounted how one night, when she was a toddler, she had to pee. The idea of walking past the corpse terrified her so much that she contemplated wetting the bed. She decided against it, and crept past the body.
Her family expected her to become a nun. She tried, but convent life wasn’t for her. Instead, she moved to New York City, much to the chagrin of her parents. There she met the love of her life and married him. His occupation was Director to President Roosevelt and later Truman, during World War Ii. Of course, he couldn’t tell her much, but did hint that the war would be over, days before the bombing of Hiroshima.
After her husband died, she was fortunate that she didn’t have to work. Being restless, she travelled and eventually moved back to New York City. She later moved to Michigan to be with family.
She kept her spirit even as she grew older. At a family function, an in-law made a crude comment about his wife. Auntie calmly walked over to him and proceeded to dump an entire cup of champagne on his head. He had thick curly hair and no way to remove the sticky substance. Being stubborn, he remained at the function while flies landed on his head. Ew.
As she further aged, she kept her physical health, mental faculties, and independence. She did lose some of her reflexes. Riding in a car while she drove was usually an adventure. My sister and I often suppressed nervous laughter and hoped we made it to our destination alive.
Despite her life of comfort, she reminded us that we all put our pants and pantyhose on one leg at a time, and when we died our bodies returned to earth or ash, whether we were rich or poor.
When Aunt Priscilla died, her viewing was in a regular funeral home. I laughed and thought about how thankful she would be as a toddler, not having to creep past her own body in the middle of the night to pee.
That’s just a sample of the kind of person my Aunt Priscilla was and I plan on keeping her story alive as long as I can.
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