My Aunt Joanne, my mother's older sister, died today. She had been in ill health for the past 8 months, and when my Uncle Arthur died a month ago, she was very fragile and weak.
She has spent most of the last month in the hospital, including time in ICU. Yesterday they told Matt, her son, that she had taken a sudden turn for the worse and they did not expect that she had long to live. She died this morning, peacefully.
What can I tell you about my Aunt? One thing I remember from my childhood is that you never knew what color her hair would be. Each time we saw her, it was different. She liked to change it up. Blonde, light brown, dark brown, red, frosted (remember when frosted was in in the 1970s?). She said it was the only thing anyone could change easily, so why not do what you felt like!
She was a career schoolteacher. She always had stories about things that her students did and said. A story told so often that it became part of family lore had the punch line, "Mees Updike, Mees Updike, he say 'sheet' to me!" It still makes me smile thinking about it.
Joanne and Arthur were engaged two weeks after their first date. When my Grandmother called Mom at college to tell her about the engagement, Mom was flabbergasted. When they saw each other just weeks before, Arthur wasn't in the picture and now he was going to be a brother-in-law! Arthur was nine years older than Joanne...and they had that whirlwind courtship. As a kid I thought that was the MOST romantic thing and also sort of scandalous. And hard to understand because they were just not the scandalous types.
In just one month, my cousins have lost both their parents. I am sad, but in some way it does not surprise me. More than many couples I have known, my aunt and uncle were very attached at some deep level.
My aunt was always tough, and a fighter. About twenty years ago, she was in a terrible car accident and was in the hospital for over a month. Several times they called the family to her bedside, telling them to say goodbye. Each time she fought back and got better. I think that after Arthur died some of that determination to fight left her and her physical troubles spiralled out of control.
Rest in peace Joanne, rest in peace.