Wednesday, September 30, 2009

my aunt lillian....

i always had one favorite aunt - it was aunt lillian, my dad's younger sister. she was a gentle soul who was always soft spoken, wise and beautiful-- who talked to me as though i were an adult.

she bought me the little push-open coin purse that is hanging around my neck in this picture - i can, to this day, remember my excitement at receiving that small gift, the rubber smell of it, the way it opened and closed by squeezing the ends. it really captured my imagination.
i wore it around my neck the whole weekend we spent in Phoenix.

my dad owned a small cesena bi-wing airplane. he flew us everywhere - he even let me pilot it once it was on the air.
this particular weekend we all flew to phoenix, i remember hanging around the swimming pool at this motel. i didn't normally love these trips away from home, but i loved this one. i loved it because we were with my dear aunt lillian and her husband harvey. she made me feel like a princess - and you might be able to tell from the photo - i believed i was a princess.
all my life, growing up during every awkward stage and even the saddest of times, my aunt lillian was there - a steady rock to remind me that someone - an adult relative would listen to me and count me as important. of course my parents were there, but sometimes, they fought or had big grown up things to think about. but not aunt lillian, she talked to me face to face she laughed at my jokes and i would laugh with her about her jokes too. we shared a special relationship and understanding for one another. its hard to explain. she was my dad in feminine form - my dad who was not all that available - but who i loved deeply anyway.
then, later in life, she helped me understand my parents - their dynamics. my mother had her opinion about my dad (and my dad of my mom) that was jaded by the pathos of marriage. aunt lillian had a different view - a clearer view of my life, as it were, and helped me through it all.
aunt lillian's heart swelled with every one of my successes she witnessed in my life; my successes in swimming and going to college, jobs, lawschool, the men in my life and the birth of my children. she also helped me through my painful divorce, my new marriage in england, then the death of my second husband, my grief and the fights i had with my mom - everything. and finally she was there when my mother did not wake up one day in november 18 years ago, just before her 80th bday. she cried hard with uncontrolled hiccups all through the service for my mom, breaking my heart because i felt her loss, i knew she lost her very best friend. if only my mom knew how much her sister in-law loved her. aw, you know, maybe she did.
i saw aunt lillian last week, although she was on her final decline, barely about to swallow a few ounces of liquid food a day, alseep and unable to talk, i was there - i saw - i held her hand and i told her - she was beautiful and it is true, she was - all her long life, 95 years, she was beautiful. of course beautiful within, but also a rare beauty to behold. i bent down and whispered to her - aunt lillian , "you are still the most beautiful woman i know" and although unconscious, she smiled - the same impy smile she would have smiled anytime during her life.

she once told me her secret - she whispered - she used Pond's cream on her face every night. don't tell, it was her secret.
so goodbye my dear aunt (she passed peacefully yesterday morning).......my heart breaks, but also i am very happy i was able to share my life with you near me.
i will bet you are the prettiest woman of all in heaven.
and now, just so you know, i still have my little coin purse close to my heart.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful tribute Lisa! such beautiful memories.

Shonna said...

What a beautiful post! It brought tears to my eyes.

Loudlife said...

So sweet and beautiful, you made me cry...

anna maria said...

I echo the comment above me. It was beautiful and you made me cry. a good thing sometimes.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful Lisa. I feel/felt the exact same way about my grandmother. She was/is the light of my life and i know she is as alive now as she was when she was here on earth. God bless you, honey.

Diana Mains Welte said...

Aw Lisa, we are so fortunate to have these angels in our lives. What a wonderful tribute to your incredible aunt. Pay it forward. :-)
in friendship,
diana welte

lisa bebi said...

thanks everyone...you all have comforted me.
i was talking with my oldest daughter today and told her i am sorry that she grew up without an aunt lillian. not maybe people have aunt angels (growing up) everyone - including grandmas are too busy these days to notice the details in our younger ones.

Colette George said...

The sadness and joy you are feeling I can feel as I read about your beloved Aunt Lillian. Having someone understand and validate you as a child is priceless. What a truly special woman. Letting someone like this go takes courage and hope. I believe this isn't the end. The love she gave, as she did, is not of this mortal plane, it's from above. She is still your angel.

Please call or email if you'd feel inclined. Heart to heart, I'm here.
Colette

danae said...

Lisa,

That is one of the loveliest tributes i have ever read - you touched the soul. You are very fotunate to have had such a great person in your life. I am so sorry for your loss. xo Danae

kitasmom said...

Lisalisa, this was the most beautiful, heartfelt tribute I've ever read. I also had an Aunt Lillian (her real name!) who just kept the extended family together through her cooking and planning and making everyone feel special. she passed away 4 years ago, and the family things just haven't been the same. i still have her wisdom in me though! Linda

gina said...

hi kisa the tears are rooling down my eyes and i have never read any thing that made me cry before in my life .yes songs have but not words from a stranger.i found you from my friend suzi blus blog.i came over and started reading.i am a mom and aunt and i just can not believe how your aunt touched you so much.well, you have a beautiful soul just as she does that is for sure ,may god bless you love gina

Kristin said...

This is the most beautiful tribute. I am so sorry for your loss. If only a little of that Ponds cream would make us all as lovely, inside and out, as aunt Lillian.

Jacky said...

I agree with all the above Lisa, what a lovely post.

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