My Aunt Mary died on Monday, a little more than a week after falling down the stairs at her home. Mary, 85, was my mom's second oldest sister. My mom and her twin are the babies of the family of 10 children. In the past few days, I've looked back at photos that I took of Mary through the years. In nearly every picture, she is holding a baby, whether it was one of her four grandchildren, great nieces or nephews, or Doodle. She was one of the most nurturing people I've ever known, always caring and always available to listen and to cook you a fabulous meal. My most recent photo of Mary was taken at our family reunion in June as she celebrated her 60 year anniversary with the love of her life. She and her husband had a rock solid marriage and their love for each other was always written on their faces. My uncle isn't well and recently had to go into a nursing home; I expect that they will be reunited in heaven soon.
When I was growing up, Aunt Mary's and Aunt Ethel's families shared a large brownstone house. Every summer I would spend a week at their house, surrounded by six fun cousins and my wonderful aunts and their husbands. Once when I was nine or so I got homesick and decided that I was packing up and going home; I think Mary was the one who found me outside and led me back inside. Even though Mary's death was sudden and heartbreaking, and I don't like being in a world without her in it, I feel so fortunate to have had Mary's influence in my life.