It’s funny how when you least expect it, you hear a voice from the past that sets your mind straight and puts it all in perspective. On Monday mornings, I let my mind wander wherever it pleases during my dreaded morning commute. This morning, for reasons only known by the Universe, my subconscious resurrected my long deceased Aunt Dot. God rest her soul.
I’m sure you have an elder like Aunt Dottie perched atop your family tree, chain-smoking Kent King 100’s and griping about what a waste of money the space program is. You wanted an opinion on something, Aunt Dot had one, and you better believe it wasn’t wrapped in so much as a shred of political correctness. If nothing else, she was an honest woman.
Aunt Dot never showed up to our house empty-handed; tucked in her “grip,” her name for luggage, was always a bag of chocolate licorice and a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle to keep us occupied.
Knowing that I was completely devoted in my love for Michael Jackson, Aunt Dot came loaded with a stack of National Enquirers, which she referred to devoutly as “The Paper.” In fact, it was Aunt Dot who spent hours removing a comb tangled in a rat’s nest of my hair after I tried to give myself a jheri curl just like Michael’s. I would have been the person in lily white Pleasant Hills to rock a jheri curl.
Part of me still just doesn’t believe she’s gone, even after all these years. She passed away during exams in my first year of college. I didn’t come home for her funeral because she never wanted anyone gawking at her dead body, and I knew I was respecting her wishes. She would have wanted me to stay at school.
I guess I was just missing her today, wondering what she would think of her baby all grown up. I wish she were here to give me advice, to meet my son, to tell me not to worry about money, to scratch my back until I fell asleep on her lap. Some days I just want to be that worry-free kid again.
If I breathe deeply enough I can still smell the faint scent of Dove soap and stale cigarettes, just like the old days…