Friday, April 18, 2014

Goodbye Sweet Lady

Auntie Kris 

This is how I will remember you: Sitting at the bonfire on an August night, the stars in the sky like sparks thrown from your hands, scattered. Your face tanned and narrow and eyes lit with flame. Your easy laughter, your quick love, your stubborn insistence on the rightness of the world. 

There you are on the deck with a book spread open in your lap and Grandma is coming out the door, coffee in hand. You are standing behind the sauna splitting wood, you are sitting in your corner spot, sweating buckets of sweat, yelling, “Throw another blast on, Trish.” You are diving off the end of the dock and swimming under water as far as your lungs will let you, and when you surface you’re half way to the point. You roll on your back and breathe, floating, before your young, beautiful body swims you to shore. You were always half-fish. We all were.

This is how I will remember you: Laughing, holding your sister, singing in your twin off-note voices, “Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters...” while Grandma shakes her head and lights another cigarette and us girls—all piled onto the couch together—squeal with laughter.

This is how I will remember you: Driving that damn red car you told me you loved because “it was all payed off,” my first and perhaps only lesson on money. There are five or six or seven of us girls crammed into the back seat and you and your sister, my mother, are singing something again, and Grandma is telling you to shut-up and we are laughing. Our heads are tied with scarves and our nobby knees are smushed together—a dozen bruises and scratches between us. And you’ll berry-pick until Karissa and I lay down in the grass and claim we’re dead, until Grandma storms off to the car, until the little ones fall asleep in the grass. Later, in the cool of a rainy afternoon you’ll make jar after jar of jam, enough to keep you through the winter because you know come February you’ll need the taste of summer on your morning toast.

This is how I will remember you: Your grandbabies on your lap, in your arms, at your side. Your hands busy sewing quilts and blankets and bags and dresses because your art was given in love. Because giving something was important. And I will remember the poet auntie who wrote of raising her children, of her own childhood, of her Icelandic heritage, of her marriage. I will remember the student who loved Shakespeare classes and wanted to be an English teacher. 

Kris with her dad. 

I will remember the crazy lady that you were; a woman perhaps that never quite fit into the confines of her time. A woman who wanted to travel and write and read and sew and shop and love everyone, but who most of all wanted to be with her family at Burnt Shanty Lake every summer. 

I will remember the books you put into your hands and read year after year until they changed you and the day you promised me five dollars if I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and when I did I understood you a little better. I will remember the years when you ate sunflower seeds all day, spitting the seeds onto a paper plate at the cabin, and the peanuts you ate only after breaking them and two and removing the little "santa clause" from the middle. I will remember the pies and the cakes and the cookies you made because as your daughter would say, sometimes we need to "feed the soul." 

How proud you were of me for studying English and for writing. How proud you were of yourself when you studied and wrote and planned a different future. There were the times you drove me crazy, the times I wanted to scream at you. But then you were there in front of me laughing and telling your stories and making jokes and calling us all honey, and I couldn't stay mad for long. 

My mom, Trish; Kris; Dick; Bob

I will remember your hands and your feet and the slope of your shoulders as you walked down the road, away, away lost in your own world. I will remember the way you daydreamed and loved and believed in all of us. I will remember your courage in the face of death and your refusal to give up your life. I will remember your passion. I will remember the way you believed their was good in us all. Every one of us. 

This is how I will remember you, with your blond hair and your tanned skin in the heart of summer, sitting in peace, quiet and alone, listening and watching and knowing the things you knew, the secrets like tiny poems that shattered in your lap, in your hands, from your lips and disappeared. Fleeting, as always, the world. Beauty like shadow at dusk on an August night when the echo of voices ring the loudest and the children are still splashing in the lake, unwilling to come in for the night, to give up the water and find their beds and their sweet, sweet dreams. And you always and you, will be there in that dusk light--the best light of day--the easy hour when the day is nearly done and our hearts are full, our minds ready, when dreams come easy. 


SarahMarian said...

Rest in Peace. You are her living legacy.

Lauren Baldwin said...


Anonymous said...

I still read this sometimes ❤️ Love, captain obvious

Anonymous said...

Why am I anon? It's k