Sunday, January 07, 2007

Trois, Drei, Three, Tres

My Aunt Donna passed away on January 2nd from lung cancer. She is the third person in my family in four years time that died from a smoking related illness. Actually if want to be technical it's under four years because my Dad passed on February 3, 2003.

I don't get it.

I am sure I will NEVER get it. I have tried to understand and comprehend but it just doesn't make sense. Perhaps cigarette smoking is wonderful and tasty and maybe I am just missing the point. I know it's an addiction but I think I would certainly make every attempt possible to quit if I saw my loved ones suffer and literally beg for help the way I, and other family members, have seen in the last couple of years. Some people try... some just don't.

Enough of the soap box.

I was doing some thinking on the drive to Illinois about my Aunt Donna. You know how you hear stories growing up about certain things that happened and you actually begin to think you remember them happening but you know deep down that you couldn't possibly remember because you were too young? Well, there are a couple of stories like that about my Aunt.

When we my Mom and my Aunt got together it is inevitable that the story about me in the backseat comes up. Story has it that I was hanging on the front seat asking (for the millionth time) "are we there yet??" and Donna (who was driving) had just stepped on the break and I fell back and hit the back seat. She laughed uncontrollably and I ever-so-seriously said "It ain't funny Aunt Donna!" the other story is that we were at Six Flags in St. Louis and my Aunt wouldn't ride this horrible barrel ride... you know - the one that spins so fast it sucks everyone to the wall and then the floor drops about 5 feet? Yeah, I think I was five or six and she was in her late twenties or early thirties. I actually remember this happening and I was scared to death on that ride.

One of my favorite stories about Aunt Donna is when Mark and I went to Illinois (before continuing on our White Trash Tour to the Bridges of Madison County and down to Graceland) for Denise's wedding. Donna made me and mark stuff these horrible little crocheted baskets with candy for the wedding guests. We needed some coaxing so Donna brought out the Drambuie... then the other bottles of liquor that followed. We were drunk... all three of us... laughing, talking and crying (or as Mark calls it "boozers gloom") Around 6 am we heard a noise and Donna started laughing because it was the automatic coffee pot. It was time to get up. Uncle Dave came into the kitchen and he was not at all pleased. It was a rough day for Donna, being the Mother of the bride and all. I can't really say that Mark and I were ever good influences when we got together!

One summer Aunt Donna and Uncle Dave came to Charleston and they were dining at the Holiday Inn that overlooks the Charleston Harbor. Donna was amused that she saw dolphins swimming in the harbor and proceeded to ask the server what time they come up to feed... as if the ocean was Sea World! I think this is the same trip when we were headed to the beach and she stopped in the middle of the road because she saw there was a bridge ahead of her. She was afraid of bridges and made me drive from there. Apparently she wasn't aware that wherever you drive in Charleston there are bridges!

Then there were the green beans... At Denise's wedding to Mike there was this really weird guy who was a friend of my cousin Dave. We called him "Matrix". We were cleaning up the hall and he saw that Donna was going to throw away this huge bowl of green beans and he asked if he could have them. He handed her a plastic bag to put them in. Someone had taken all the utensils so Donna started grabbing handfuls of green beans and put them in the bag. I watched in horror, but Matrix said he was a hungry bachelor. I love that story.

She not only made me laugh, she also took care of me. When I moved to Illinois she hooked me up with a really cheap apartment. She and Uncle Dave loaned me money to fix my car when I was totally broke and my freeze plug decided to explode. She stayed with me at the hospital when I had my kidney stone surgery, took me home to her house to rest so I wouldn't be alone and let Linda stay with me while she went to get my prescription filled.

I could torture you all day with stories about Aunt Donna but I will spare you. In her high school yearbook the caption on her senior picture says this: "Loves to have fun and is loads of fun."

I would definitely agree with that.

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