Another Lesson Learned

Originally posted on July 16, 2012

My trip to Florida had one sole purpose and that was to see my Aunt Joan. My Aunt Joan is my godmother and growing up we spent lots of time together and were very close.. She is the youngest of my mother’s siblings, number 5 of 5. My mom ranked 2 of five. They were best friends.

I say they were best friends so easily now but I honestly only came to realize that 2 days ago. Of course I knew they were close but like so many things, I took their friendship for granted. It wasn’t until during our dinner conversation with everyone talking over each other in our excitement that I heard her, ever so softly, say “I miss my sister” that is when it occurred to me that they were more than sisters they were best friends.

My mother has been gone since 1994. The last time I saw my Aunt Joan was at her funeral. I haven’t talked to her since either. We weren’t mad at each other we just got caught up in our own lives. She raised her kids and then shared the joys of having grandchildren. I went through a couple of divorces..

I thought of her often. But I didn’t call her or anything. I assumed she thought of me too. I always felt that bond that was forged from the time I was born until I reached my last teen years and went off on my own. I assumed she knew that.

When I finally got to see her, a few weeks ago now, I cried like a little girl. I didn’t intend to cry, in fact I told myself I was not going to cry. It seems I don’t listen very well.

I was disappointed that my time with her was so brief but I vowed to be respectful of my cousin’s wishes. After all, they barely know me and they must think if their mother was as important to me as I say I surely would have wrote, called , or visited before now. I don’t know why I didn’t, honestly I don’t. Without mom here to keep us each posted on the other one’s life; neither one of us bothered to fill the gap. But the love I have for her and how very special she is to me, has never diminished. She sent me a message after our visit and part of it said she was happy that she meant so much to me. It surprised me to read that. I just always thought she instinctively knew, like I did, how special she is to me.

We met at a restaurant in St. Petersburg Florida where she lives. Three of my four cousins were there with some of their kids. It was a wonderful gathering even though the selfish little girl in me wanted time alone with Aunt Joan. When I planned this trip I had visions of sitting for hours with her talking about our lives but my cousins said that her health would not allow that. They warned me about her heart and other frailties so I braced and prepared myself to be satisfied with any time no matter how brief. When I finally saw her she did look a little older and maybe a little frailer than she did 18 years ago. But right away I recognized that smile and that twinkle and hoped she saw something as flattering in me.

My cousin, sitting beside her and across from me ordered an appetizer of fried clams. Now I am not really a seafood eater. My cousin offered me some and I declined but then a voice from my childhood said “Dawn why don’t you try them” that same voice , those same words I had heard many many times and without thinking or missing a beat I reached out and grabbed one, as if I were 8 years old.

She laughed and joked like she always did and in a moment all the years were gone. This was my Aunt Joan, and I sure have missed her.

Aunt Joan and I (c) (1)Aunt Joan and I (c) (2)

7 thoughts on “Another Lesson Learned

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