My Aunt's name was Mildred. However, my Mother could not say Mildred. Their Mother told her to call her little sister and it came out "little Ooper". Over time the little was dropped and only the Ooper remained. I hardly heard anyone call her by her proper name we all said Ooper.
Today, my sweet niece and I drove to four different stores in order to get the perfect flowers for her Memorial service to be held tomorrow at 3:00pm. It wasn't personal enough to ME to just order flowers. Oh NO! I wanted to arrange her favorite ones myself. That way I knew I'd get what she liked. She didn't like anything skimpy looking. She liked arrangements to be nice and full. Maybe one of the last things I would ever be able to do for her. I am a perfectionist anyway but when it comes to her, yes, things must be done the right way.
Yellow roses, yellow lilies, yellow mums...like a bouquet of sunshine will be next to her photo on the alter table. I even found some yellow freesia.
Pink and white roses, gerbera daisies and berries with the prettiest feather fern will be on each side placed on a pedestal flanking the alter table.
As I took each flower and wired it just the right way, or trimmed the length I tried to think of something special she said to me. Something funny she did. Some secret we shared. Her favorite songs.
When all the trimming and wiring and each flower in it's proper place was finished, I had gone through funny stories in my mind, times we laughed so hard we cried. Sad stories that were so sad we cried. Secrets we shared never to be told to another living soul. Remembering things we laughed about, sometimes until tears poured fromm our eyes. I had a bouquet full of her favorite flowers and beautiful memories in my mind that filled my heart until I thought it would burst. My hands are not capable of doing such nice work, but with God's blessing and his guidance they did a wonderful job.
I realized she is gone from this earth. I will not be able to call her and talk and laugh with her anymore. But, I have stories and memories and no one can take those away.
I remembered the days we spent together watching my Memommie slip away. I remember ME comforting her, not the usual way it was done. I remembered how that strengthened the bond between us even more.
Yesterday we (the entire family) went to visit my Aunt's first cousin (Aunt Liz) and daughters. They had been so gracious to invite us all out to the River house (Riv- ah house) for tea and desserts. To sit and talk aboutAunt Ooper and all that she meant to each of us. That's the good thing about being born in the South, here we stick together like glue. We were treated to a performance by three of Jill's (my cousins) six children beautiful violin, mandolin, and guitar music filled the great Family room and the Dining room. The music, the river and the family were all what the doctor ordered. Never, have I seen such charming children in my entire life. It was just what we all needed. Now Aunt Liz will be the gate keeper of the family.
We talked about how she made hundreds of sand tarts at Christmas time, all carefully rolled in powdered sugar and how their family always called them Ooper cookies. My great Aunt Liz is as southern as a woman can get. I love to listen to her stories and she wants you to share yours with her. She says in her thick southern drawl, "now Ya'll promise to come back and we will talk some more." Mo-ah is how she pronounces more. We talked about how she loved to go to Biloxi with my Aunt and gamble. After all, they decided, it wasn't a sin because they had raised there children and they weren't drinking and they tithed at church. And they set a limit and stuck to it. I even found out my Memom went a few times. The three older ladies in the back of my cousins Pam's Cadillac heading out to gamble.
I thought about the time my niece and I were visiting Auntie. She loved music and had her favorite playlist on Rhapsody. We were surprised when we saw Peggy Lee and Fever. Auntie was in the kitchen but we clicked on the song and Peggy began to sing in her low sultry voice. Suddenly, Auntie broke out into a loud, "Fever....when you kiss me" and we were shocked. From that point to this day that niece called her Fever. Going through a stack of printed lyrics in her home I found lyrics by such a variety of artist. I saw Dixie Chicks, James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Wynonna, Sara McLachlan. Remember she was 80, not your typical playlist or lyric file for someone that age. I think she gave me my love for music.
My brothers are all gifted musicians. Today while I arranged her favorite flowers, my oldest brother played for me. Some hymns, some James Taylor, some Sir Paul, some John Denver. It was pleasant and I caught myself thinking, she is watching and she would be so please. For the first time in days, I took in a full breath and exhaled. They are planning the music for the service and I know that would make her so proud. There are poems to be read, special verses from Psalms to share. We all have our talents and for her, we were all too happy to respond. This should be some service.
God is here with us. Their is no doubt in my mind about that. I have felt your prayers. God gives us family to support each other. I hope she is watching and smiling. I am going to do my best to make her proud of me.
Thank you for your kind words to me, during this most difficult time. Next to my Father dying it has been the hardest thing I've faced. We have 3 weeks to pack her belongings up and move everything out so I will imagine I won't be blogging as much. Please remember my family and me in your prayers.
She lived a good life. All that knew her loved her. She loved children. She loved music. She loved yellow and pink flowers. She loved to be kind and she loved others to return kindness. Her favorite saying was, "this too, shall pass". It will, all the hurt, the shock of it all will pass. Her gentle spirit will be here with us and remind us how our family is to live. With Grace and understanding always following the Lord.
Tomorrow we will have her Memorial service. But, it won't be the last time we celebrate what an awesome gift God gave to us when we were born to a family like ours. We are sad, but God has been good to us all.