Wednesday, February 20, 2013

365/17 Aunty Brenda

Try this: make a list of 365 people whose names you remember and who were interesting to you. And then, if you can, write down a few words about each of them before they're gone from your memory. If you can't do this, it might be wise to spend the next 365 days meeting more people in person who are interesting to you. Learn their names.

My Aunt.

Here is the thing about Aunts that makes them extra special. They aren't mom's. Now don't take that the wrong way, but mom's have this role in life of you know, PARENTING you, so they have to do things as you grow up that you don't like. For your own benefit of course. Aunts don't have to. They stand apart in this other zone where they can love you but the love is special because they can always see the very best in you. They have a barrier to the negative and the conflicts that arise between kids and parents. They have a special place.

I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. When I was born the country was known as Rhodesia and there was a civil war going on. My dad was in the army, my parents were newlyweds, and my mom worked. What this translated to for me as a young child was spending a lot of time with my Aunt and my cousins.

My mom tells stories of how I was so attached to my aunt that on weekends when I was with my mom if we happened to run into my aunt in town at the grocery store I would scream and cry and want to go with her. As a result of my very poor behaviour (shame on me), my mom and aunt would make sure they scheduled visits to market to avoid one another and the scene I would inevitably cause.

I have a very close bond with my aunt. I love her deeply and she loves me. When we moved to Canada she wrote letters and on every birthday she would send a red ribbon with my age. I loved these ribbons. When she and her family moved to England we would stay with them in our cross-Atlantic trips. She made Christmas tree decorations with me. She taught me how to cross stitch.
When she moved to California and our family was finally settled in Canada I would spend summers with her in Azusa at the "Rainbow Angling Club" which she managed.

I was a bed wetter late into my teens and I remember one summer when I was staying with her that I had an "accident" one night and she had the mattress out on the deck drying and my clothing in the washing machine. A vendor that she worked with in the housing complex arrived to meet with her and do some work. Her office was in her unit and the vendor came inside. As he walked into the unit there must have been an overpowering smell of urine and he took it upon himself to draw her attention to the "HUMAN URINE" smell that was assailing his senses. She insisted it was not "HUMAN URINE" but cat urine and that she was taking care of it. He tried and tried to convince her it was not feline in nature and repeated the phrase "HUMAN URINE", loudly, over and over and over. I was in the house and could hear this conversation. I was absolutely mortified that this man was going to charge into the house and sniff out the smell of urine on me and reveal my deepest secret and worst nightmare. She was having no part of it. Once he left and it became obvious to her that I was upset by the interaction she turned the situation on it's head and made the vendor the brunt of a joke with his extra sensory perception for sniffing out human waste. From that day to this we have ever referred to him as "Human Urine." Her dedication to me and to my protection, both physical and mental was made evident.

When I went to university in Utah I would take every opportunity to travel to California that I could, often leaving with people late on a Friday and returning on a Sunday JUST to spend time with her.
She has a love of animals and people that knows no bounds. She is a tireless worker and CONSTANTLY thinking of others and how she can help them. She looked after my grandparents in their last years, moving in with my grandmother and selling her own house to do so in order to provide the kids of support my grandmother needed in her last years.

She has made blankets for my kids which to this day are Maxi's "special" blankets. She is a seamstress extraordinaire. She wanted to send me some mumu's (which I love to wear) but couldn't find any when she shopped for them and so she told me she was going to make me some after Christmas.

A few weeks ago I called to talk to her to ask her if she could help me with the 100 days project for Maxi's class. She went out the very next day and sent a HUGE amount of stamps for him to use. She said in that phone call she was feeling under the weather and hadn't had a chance to make my mumu's but was planning on getting to it as soon as she felt a bit better.

She has cancer. Aggressive Cancer. We only just found out about it - in fact only after she mailed the stamps to me did we realize how sick she was.  Maxi's project was due on February 11th or 12th and she mailed the stamps a few weeks before then, so it has barely been a month - if that.

She is so weak she cannot stand. She has needed huge amounts of blood and the doctors are having a devil of a time to get her blood regulated so that the chemo will work. The mess up with her blood is leaving her weak and disoriented and she can't really talk on the phone. The cancer is in her lungs, lymph nodes and lungs.

I feel selfish for thinking of myself right now and probably look selfish for saying so, but I am not prepared in any way to face the loss of someone I love so much. She may recover. She may beat this thing. I hope and I pray that she does. I'm writing about her as one of the people in my 365 project - to write about someone you find interesting before they fade from memory. I know this much - she is more than interesting she is amazing AND though her body is failing her right now, SHE will never fade.

I love you Aunty Bren.

1 comment:

Teena in Toronto said...

Your Aunty Bren sounds awesome :)