I want to make this brief, but I have to get it out of me. I don’t have time to write a fully comprehensive blog about it or perhaps I just don’t want to reflect that much on what it all means. My Aunt died this morning. She was my Mom’s sister. She has been everything a Mom should be in my life over the last ten years. She has taken me in, she has fed me, she has driven me to school and work when I didn’t have a car, she has come with me to work just to be able to spend time with me and see how I am doing. We were very close for many years. I am glad I was able to spend more time with her over these last few months than I have with anyone who has left me behind on this Earth. I have so many fond memories and some not so amazing memories. I suppose that is what makes us family.
My Uncle flies in from Germany on Friday. He will be here a week. Of course, this is among the busiest weeks of the year for us. I have no doubt he will be enjoying his time with family. I hope, between the busy moments, we will be able to spend as much time with him as possible. Perhaps, after so much studying, I will understand a bit of German and be able to communicate more fluidly. Yet there are no words needed in times like this. It will be yet another day that the two of us, and this time many more, will stand on the hillside overlooking the city, hugging each other at the loss that surrounds us. I hope very much that, in whatever circumstances, my Aunt will be able to rest in peace near my Mom, her Mom, her son, and her grandson.
The funeral is Saturday. I suppose it is a “perk” of having been so close to someone in their lifetime, but my cousin, Nikki (Ilse’s daughter) has asked me to read the obituary at the funeral. I’ve never dared speak at a funeral before. Somehow, this time, it seems right. I hope that I will be able to hold it together well enough to be at least somewhat audible.
Until then, this is a brief synopsis of memories that I have sent to my cousin, Andrea:
In so many ways, Ilse has been the Mom I didn’t have over this last decade. I have so many fond memories from recent years. When I first lived alone in Heber, over those six months Ilse came to see me each time she brought or picked up Michael from Park City. We would visit for hours, go out to lunch, and even have sleepovers – talking throughout the night and laughing until the early morning. She was there for me when I came back to Utah – helping me to plan a wedding and try on wedding dresses just like any Mother would do. She was there for me when I called it all off and needed a place to stay where I could get a hug at any hour of the day. For the next few years she would come with me to hang posters and attend concerts for Sony. She knew the only way to spend time with me was to run along beside me in my very busy schedule and she was happy to do it. She took me back into her home after my car broke down; she spent months driving me to work early in the morning, picking me up, and letting me borrow her car when I needed. She never complained. She never left me alone to fend for myself. In those last months she shared more with me than ever. She saw me as an equal and a friend. I would have done anything for her. She truly was the greatest example of unconditional love I have ever known. I will miss her very much.
I know that wherever Ilse is right now, she is well taken care of and those who have gone before her are happy to have her home with them. I hope that she is hugging my mom. I have no doubt my mom has thanked her, many times, for all that Ilse has done for me in these years I’ve spent without my mom here to guide me. I am blessed to have known a power so charismatic and so full of life as my Aunt Ilse has always been. I will miss her greatly.
[Edit] I cannot forget these last few memories…
When, just two weeks ago, Ilse was wide-eyed in trying to explain to Agnes and I that she wanted some “pin clothes.” Before we could translate her barely audible and somewhat backwards speech, Agnes said to her, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I’m sorry.” Ilse replied as clear as day, “AGNES! Your mother would spank you!” After a short laugh we finally figured out she wanted clothes pins to put on her blanket. Why? We still don’t know.
Also, in the last two months, every time Stark and I have gone to see her – together or alone – without fail she first asks us about our coffee, if we have coffee with us, what kind of coffee is it and can she have some? The last time or two we went to see her, she was so adamant about having a taste that Stark and I went to make her a hot chocolate to pass off as coffee. We had to be very careful to call it a “mocha” rather than hot chocolate, or she would be upset and look at us all like we were trying to pull one over on her (probably because we were). But she didn’t know the difference. She just wanted to be naughty in her final days. It was several weeks ago that she was asking someone else, when we walked in, for some hard liquor.
They say we regret the things we did not do more than the things we have done. I certainly watched Ilse go through a phase of both. But she need not regret who she was. All will be forgiven with time.