When the phone rang I almost didn’t answer it. I saw Trooper Bob’s name on the caller i.d. but I knew this time it wouldn’t be one of our normal calls. It was the news that was inevitable but not at all what I wanted to hear.
You see with that call I knew she was gone. I knew that that part of my heart was going to have to break and that I would have to be an adult and accept the fact that she had gone to the big swimming hole in the sky.
Most of my memories of her are around water. She, being one of the greatest ladies I’ve ever known, loved the water. Even though she couldn’t swim she would shimmy into her swimsuit and strap on her life-vest. She would grab my little hand and bellow her boisterous laugh “come on Gladys let’s get wet!” Off she would run with me down to the lake not to be confused with a tank and make a big splash. She would grab me and her youngest son, John-John, and drag us down to the water to splash and float and play. Encouraging us to explore and be brave.
My earliest memory of her involved a hot summer day and nectar served in a glass jar. I think I may have been three or maybe four when she offered me a mason jar full of a golden substance that tasted nothing like anything I had before. Nurse Meme made sweet tea, but hers did not taste like the cold liquid gold she poured. I was convinced it was the jar that made the tea taste so good. She laughed and told me of course it was all the while smiling out the window admiring her water softener.
Mostly I remember the freedom of her home. I remember sitting cutting out flowers and horses in the middle of her living room creating a mess that would have never been allowed in my own home. She urged creativity, she encouraged imagination and she didn’t mind the mess it made. Her words were encouraging and uplifting and when you needed to be brought to reality she did it with love and compassion.
She was my family, my kin, a part of my heart. She would wrap you in a hug that would make your sadness disappear and make you laugh until your face hurt. She will forever be in my memories and my blood. She was my Aunt Francis and I will miss her dearly and remember her fondly, yet somehow I know she will always be with me. I will forever hear that full-bodied belly laugh and feel her joy in my heart.
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.