When did she become old? When did she begin to traverse the aging process? I still view my Aunt Shirley through the eyes of a child. I regard Shirley as young and vibrant and affable with that enviable head of curly, bombshell blonde hair.
The unspoken truth lying heavily upon us like a sodden wool blanket is that this beautiful woman . . . a mother, a devoted wife, a sister, an in-law, a grandmother, an aunt, and a friend is at the end of her life.
This is the second of my Dad’s siblings to face the grim reality of life – death. Aunt Shirley is the oldest of the brood, my Dad the youngest. In between Aunt Shirley and Dad, in no particular order because honestly, I cannot remember the proper birth sequence of the middle ones: Barbara, Donald and Donna (“the twins”), and Ronald (deceased). As an only child, I cannot fathom the loss of a sibling. Though I have no experience with the bonds that tie brothers and sisters, I have an understanding of the complexities of their relationships. Even more unfathomable is the loss of a parent; my heart aches for my cousins. I know that I am so very blessed to have both parents living, especially when I nearly lost Mum years ago.
I have yet to shed a tear for Shirley. However, while I write about her remaining days amongst the living, my eyes brim with tears, but I will not allow them to spill over. I have vocalized all of the expected and appropriate sentiments of consolation, I have gone to visit and will continue to do so, but I feel . . . nought. My well of emotions runs deeply so I know that my current lack of sensitivity is my visceral reaction to mournful situations, and therefore, it is merely temporary. As is my typical pattern of behavior with loss, the dam will break when the hubbub dissipates and the quiet envelops me like a cloak of fog.
When did Aunt Shirley grow old? Even as a young child, I never perceived my elders as old. And because I have essentially zero perception of my own aging, I have had little awareness of the senescence around me.
I will remember Aunt Shirley as young and vibrant and affable with that enviable head of curly, bombshell blonde hair.