Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Flag Day Birthday

Preparing to scatter the ashes

My favorite aunt died a couple years ago. Her birthday was June 14th, which also happens to be Flag Day. It is easy to remember the birth date of people born on a holiday. My aunt was in her late seventies when she died. She lived in Arizona and I had not seen her for over forty years. She wanted it that way. She made a decision to remove herself from our family for reasons that I have never fully understood but, over time, came to accept. I miss her.

She had grown up with a mentally and physically abusive father. She was married once but the marriage ended in divorce. It was then that she left the city she had lived in for her entire life and headed first to Texas then on to Arizona. She struggled with alcoholism for years but through AA she was clean and sober for the last 15 to 20 years of her life. I kept in touch with her by telephone and letters but she never wanted me to visit in person. I respected that even though I would have loved to spend time with her.

My sister and I went to Arizona together to clean up June's affairs and scatter her ashes. Her caregiver drove us to the area my aunt wanted to be scattered. June's best friend went with us and it was good to hear bits and pieces of the life she had created for herself in Arizona. She was well known in AA and had sponsored many people in their journey of recovery. She had good friends and a dog who loved her unconditionally. Life was good.

As I threw ashes into the wind on that cool sunny day I let myself relive so many wonderful memories of my life and times with Aunt Junie. Spending weekends with her at her lake house, swimming and skiing. She introduced me to my first love, you know, the one you never forget. She taught me how to drive a car. She taught me how to drive her fishing boat and how to head into waves so I wouldn't capsize. Lots of flashes of memory rushed through my mind and then the ashes were gone...all scattered.

Rest in peace dear Aunt Junie. You were loved and you live on in my heart.

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