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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Diary, Featured |

Mothers Day with my aunt

Mothers Day with my aunt

I called my aunt today

on Mothers Day.

 

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My own Mom is dead.

 

It’s not so unusual to call your aunt

Except in my case.

I haven’t called my aunt in say

about 35 years.

Last time I saw my aunt

was at my Mom’s funeral.

Eight years ago.

 

Today, while looking for photos of Mom

I found one of her, my aunt and my sister.

They are sitting on a couch.

They are enjoying themselves.

Likely it’s after coffee or a family feast.

I notice my aunt has voluptuous lips.

(When she was younger, she reminded me of Haily Mills.)

I notice she is animated.

She is telling a story.

The other two are laughing.

 

I was seized by the impulse to talk to her.

I found where I’d stashed her phone number

and I phoned her.

We talked for a long time.

 

I realize now

that my aunt loves me.

I’d never really thought

about that before.

That my aunt would care

 

But now I know she does.

 

She timed her arrival to Canada

(With my grandmother)

For my birth.

She remembers

Mom bringing me home

And laying me on a sofa.

 

I realize now

that my aunt loves me.

 

I realize now

that I love my aunt.

An unexpected revelation.

 

I think of the years

that we let

Negligently flow by us

Without picking up the phone.

So easy

the telephone.

Its cool soothing distance.

No pictures – just that voice

That loved me long ago,

That nurtured me a lifetime ago.

A voice that helped shape my understanding of love.

 

It’s too bad we haven’t spoken

For so long, I say.

(I’m remembering a time about 35 years ago.

I was young, brash

And talked loudly, too loosely.)

 

Ja,

she says in her lovely

German accent

I’m struck by how deep that voice

Resonates within me –

Viscerally.

 

There was friction,

She says and continues

But, what I always say is

Let the ball fall where it does.

 

Yes, I agree, I say

 

We break into German, easily

Just like during the decades

When she and my uncle would pack their three kids and my Oma

into sedans and station wagons that changed with

years, clothing styles, more wrinkles, new glasses, another kid, life’s progression –

And come to our house

For Kaffe Zeit,

A gemutlich occasion in any traditional German family.

 

We would sit around the oblong teak table

And have coffee and home-baked cakes

That  my mother baked every Saturday.

 

The late afternoon sunlight

Streamed in uneven columns

through the piano window

Above the bureau at the head of the table

Where my father sat.

 

As I child

I watched the patterns

Of the smoke from his cigarette

Swirling

Twisting

Poetically

Languidly

Thought the shafts of light.

 

I would daydream

Swathed in the warmth

Of the dining room

The abstract sounds of conversation – German, English, German

Wafting around me

Thick, hazy, lazy – like the smoke

enveloping me in a permeable cocoon

of family.

 

I tell my aunt about my daughter – whom she doesn’t know.

She tells me about her grandchildren – whom I don’t know.

We talk about family history – hers is a lot longer than mine and I learn a lot.

 

And I realize –

How profound the consequences

of letting go

of my connection to my aunt

So many years ago.

A lifetime ago.

 

I ask myself:

How could our bonds have been that unimportant?

 

I note:

I saw that photo and I called.

 

I don’t say good-bye to my aunt at the end of our call.

Instead I say, Let’s continue the conversation .

Okay, she says .

 

And I tell her that I love her.