This weekend, some family came to town to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the passing of someone very important to all of us. My family and Manda’s family are very close. All the connections get really convoluted and are not relevant, but Manda and I have been friends almost all of our lives, and the woman who raised her was my mother’s best friend.
She was an artist and a teacher and the strong-willed lynch pin that brought so many people together. She and my mom were always telling us to “go home and make it” when we saw something at a store that we wanted. When I went to stay with her as a young kiddo, we would oil pint, and sculpt, and make things out of wood. We’d hike, and camp, and skip rocks on the creek near her house. We’d eat sandwiches on a mountain and lick the dirt of off our fingers. She had a magic red blanket at her house that was magic because if you slept under it, you would never have bad dreams. I’d use her cat, Nel, as a pillow. She let me paint my fingernails, which was kind of forbidden at my house, and I fell asleep with the tv on. She used to give me a bath in the kitchen sink because I complained that the shower spray blinded and suffocated me. She made you drink fresh juice from her juicer in the morning. It was her mother who taught me to crochet. There is so much to say. I realized, at our gathering on Saturday night, that my memory of her is from my childhood, and I don’t think I had as close a relationship with her as an adult, mainly, I think, because I transferred some of that energy to my relationship with Manda. I may not have had that opportunity to glean adult wisdom from her, but I think she and that wisdom live on in Manda and the rest of the family as well.
On Saturday night, some of us gathered around a fire pit to say a few words, and to burn some letters and things. We believe that you can send things to the spiritual world, or what have you, by burning them. I wrote a letter, the contents of which will only be known to me and her and the fire, and I also sent her photos of two things: the one meal I can remember cooking with her probably around age 5, and the plant we chose together that I still have and is still alive in my kitchen. She liked it because she said it looked like an ant eater. They are very silly and crappy photo collages, but I think she would appreciate the humor!
Auntie Nita, I love you. That’s it. That’s all. And that’s everything.