Friday, April 04, 2008

Together Again

I took this picture of my Aunt Bubbles and Uncle Gene when I was a kid. For the next 25 years I carried it with me everywhere I went, and just seeing it and knowing they were in the world kept me going.

Aunt Bubbles & Uncle Gene

My Aunt Bubbles followed Uncle Gene to that party where Pa is dancing on the bar, and I know her parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends and dogs were happy to see her, just like I know she and Uncle Gene are proud of their daughter and grandchildren, who--live everyone who knew her--are gutted to know they won't see her or hear her voice for a while. Aunt Bubbles and Nan called each other soulmates, and I know there's no one that could talk with her about their guys and movies and mysteries the way Aunt Bubbles could. I promised Aunt Bubbles I'd try, but my brain is dependent on the Internet, where Aunt Bubbles just knew things.

Aunt Bubbles was the storyteller I'd sit with every chance I got, but when I thought about it tonight as everyone was sharing stories, I realized most of the stories she told me were about things Pa and Uncle Gene would do. I didn't get up and tell everyone that she was the one who told me how to spray paint downwind so I didn't paint myself, and mum didn't tell the story about the curtain rod project of 2002, but those are some of the things we'll remember. Everyone knows about her love of movies, though, and my Aunt Theresa told a story that she found a composition book and thought her mother had left a journal. When she opened the book, she read, "Paul Newman was born...," the book was had pictures and notes about actors and movies. Aunt Theresa went on to tell the story about one time that Paul newman got into Uncle Gene's cab, and Aunt Bubbles asked, "Why didn't you bring him home?!" Aunt Bubbles said I had good taste when Nan told her I liked Jean Arthur, and she always told us she was like Becker (the Ted Danson character, which made me happy because, dude, I wish I was like that!) and last night I heard Nan's TV, playing Becker. There are a million things that will make me think of her every day, just like Uncle Gene. Years ago, she sang Beyond The Sea at her grandson's karaoke party, and I've been thinking of that song, and this week it makes me quite weepy. But in a good way, because they rocked, and all I want is for them to be happy because they earned it. I would go so far as saying they saved my life. They definitely kept me sane, and they always looked out for me.

One of my happy safe places. There was, of course, the story involving mah boobie back when I was 14, when Aunt Bubbles told us about her doctor, who Uncle Gene called up the night before my surgery, telling him to get some sleep. He told me he called at one in the morning. This is part of the reason Uncle Gene was cool. The other part was that he picked us up and drove us to the hospital the morning of my surgery, and told me not to worry if "one ended up smaller than the other," and then he ate the meal they brought me afterwards because I only wanted the Jell-O, and told me not to get cocky when I started getting ready to go home two minutes after I woke up and nearly puked.

After we lost Pa, Aunt Bubbles and Uncle Gene had me put my film-to-video skills to good use, and through that, I met Aunt Bubbles' family, and Aunt Theresa's in-laws, and their friends Annette and Chuck, and I loved them all so much that it got to the point where I would know people at gatherings, and they had no idea who I was at first, but then they'd say, "You're Gene's niece!" and they'd tell me a story or ten and I felt like I could take on the world. One time Aunt Bubbles told me it happened to her, too, that because of the videos I'd sent her of Pa's friends, she was getting up to greet people she didn't even know because she recognized them from a movie film or picture.

I had plans when I learned to drive. Those plans will never happen now, and I have to live that, but I know they understood. At least, Uncle Gene used to yell over the phone, "Get off the road!" and always told me to warn him when I was going to come through his street so he could get indoors. Like I said, always looking out for me.

Being the emo soppy mess that I generally am, I wasn't much use over the phone before I lost my voice, so I sent Uncle Gene my comics, because I wanted to make him laugh. Aunt Bubbles told me he loved it. Aunt Bubbles loved butterflies, so yesterday I made her an origami butterfly. I wrote a message on the paper before I folded it, what I wanted her to know above everything, and actually all I could write before my head threatened to explode and wet the paper. I love you, my China doll Aunt Bubbles.

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