This is going to be short. But I wanted to say something.
If you don’t have an Aunt Norma in your family, you missed out. She was sweet — she’d address all of us kids as “baby”. Greet you with a hug and a kiss. And she was fiery. She’d drop a curse word and did not take crap or b.s. for a minute.
Like, at the gathering after Daddy’s funeral, one of my cousins is a model. I think. Or was? He’s got photos of himself on Facebook rockin’ his six pack abs. So at the gathering, Aunt Norma was like, “C’mon now. You’re showing off those abs all over the internet. Let’s see ’em. Don’t try acting all modest now.”
She reached over, grabbed his shirt and started tugging. He was trying to resist the force that is Aunt Norma. Good luck, buddy.
She was one of those people who would say whatever was on her mind. Even if you were embarrassed by it, she was just real.
I remember when I was a kid, my sister and I were at my father’s for the weekend, and a bunch of the family was there hanging out. I had on my PJs and was running around. Aunt Norma saw me and said, “Damn, Gary. Is that your butt in those pajamas?!”
And I was like, “Aunt Norma!”, and ran out of the room with my little hands trying to obscure my hindquarters while everybody was cracking up. And thus began the awareness of junk in said trunk.
My big sister has always been the conduit between me and my father’s side of the family. Whenever there’s news or something she takes it upon herself to keep me informed.
Just after a birthday dinner for me, a cousin and an aunt (mother’s side of the family) this past Sunday, Tracey called and told me that Aunt Norma was in hospice care. Then the other morning she called to tell me that Aunt Norma had passed away. So much sooner than I thought it would be.
Back during the ordeal with our dad, the doctors spent a lot of time trying to get information from my sister and sometimes me. Information, that frankly, we didn’t know. To be honest, I think they were a little put off sometimes by how little we knew: Who are his doctors? When did he last have this or that procedure? Who did he assign as his health care decision makers? Do you have a list of medications?
Aunt Norma, a nurse and my dad’s sister, went to the emergency room and ICU and got answers from the doctors and nurses. While our dad was dying from complications and consequences of cancer, Aunt Norma was fighting her own battle — if I can put it that way — with cancer of the liver. I think that’s right. I didn’t even know it at the time.
From what I know, that’s one of the worst cancers you can get.
At Daddy’s funeral, she said she was mad at my father for dying because they were in it together. She said that he told her that she better not die before he does. And she said, “Arthur, why do you have to say that? Why can’t we both beat it?”
The last words we said to each other — back in October — were:
“Take care of yourself, Aunt Norma.”
“You can beat this. Do your best.”
“Oh, I am.”
“Do your best. Then do a little better.”
Even though I wasn’t there in her last days, I’m glad that a lot of the Young family was there to share memories and show her love.
Aunt Norma, you’ll be missed. We all looked up to you and you’ve taken a big part of us with you.
Rest in peace.