Aunt Angie

The dr said she has 24-48 hrs left. Age texted me.

 

My Aunt Angie who had recently recovered was now in hospice waiting out her final hours. The alcoholism that she lived with for so long was now ending her life. The cirrhosis was ending her life. Her body was slowly shutting down. She was no longer conscious. Just silent, in a sleep-like state. 

 

I wanted to drive to Tucson to be with my family but my dog had recently had oral surgery and I had to wait and see how he was. I also didn’t want to be driving to Tucson and be on the road and she passed while I was driving there. So, I waited.

 

I went to church and I prayed. I prayed for a quick release of her soul from her tired body. I prayed that she would be able to rest at last in peace.

 

Her sister came to see her and visit and within minutes of Mary leaving Angie passed. It was like she was waiting for her.

 

She died a few hours after I got home from church.

 

Deezie said she wanted us to be traditional for her. She wanted us to wait for her spirit all night. Jesse and I abided by her wishes. We stayed up all night and listened. Nothing or no one came to us as we watched reality TV. We mourned together and kept each other company throughout the night.

 

We decided to leave for the reservation in the morning after getting a little bit of sleep.

 

On the drive, I thought about times I drove with my auntie in the car.  She was always ready to go for a ride somewhere. She always wanted me to take her somewhere. 

 

Once, I was back home, I had this beat-up, old Dodge van. She wanted me to pick up my nieces. We drove to pick them up. We had all the kids piled in the back. One of the kids had division cards they were practicing with and left them in the van. I traveled back to Vegas with them.

 

Another time, she wanted me to give a guy a ride up the road because it was cold. I had my Maltese in the car. He was drunk. He hadn’t seen the dog and Eddie popped up out of nowhere and barked at him. The guy said, “I didn’t know they had miniature sheepdogs.” Angie just laughed and laughed.

 

When my brother died, we spent a lot of time on the reservation driving back and forth between Flag and Tuba. Angie was beading me a hair stick. She just talked and talked about nothing and everything. She talked while she beaded. The beads were all different shades of green. She tied off the hair stick with beads of green turquoise. That hair stick fell out of my hair and was lost in a crowd. I cried when I realized I lost it.

 

Angie came to stay with me and Derek for a month. She came and looked after the kids. She beaded and watched Ellen. She did arts and crafts with the kids. She said that Derek’s niece and oldest daughter were naughty and not nice to her. They apologized. 

 

On that visit, we heated the swimming pool and got Angie in. It was fall. She said she couldn’t swim. She stayed near the shallow end. To be on the safe side, we put floaties on her arms so she could float around the pool. While outside, shooting stars shot across the night sky. She puffed at them. She said that’s what grandma told her to do. She said she didn’t know why, but that’s what you do. 

 

While she was here, I took her to visit Emma. She was able to see Tom’s daughter a few times.

 

Each night Angie was with us, Derek, Angie and I would sit out back and have a mountain smoke and talk about our day. We would just sit and relax. Angie would counsel us and pray with us. We would have our moment and then go in and cook dinner and be with the kids. 

 

I drove Angie back to the reservation a month later. She was homesick. It was nice she stayed so long. We had a nice drive back. We stopped in Seligman. I never stopped there before and it’s a strange little town. It just seemed off. It was quiet and had very few people, but the people we did see looked at us funny. But Angie really needed to pee and needed a drink so we stopped.

 

The last drive I had with Angie was a few years ago. I was on the reservation for a visit. She came up from Amity for a visit. She wanted me to drive her around. We drove to the dinosaur tracks by Monave and drove around the backside of the mountains. We just slowly drove and drove. She talked about there being glyphs and other things hidden in the rocks and pottery on the tops of the mesa. She talked about how as a kid she thought the white rock was salt and she licked it even though grandma told her not to.

 

We drove around until we both had to pee. We stopped the truck. I handed her a Starbucks napkin. We got out. We both dropped our drawers and peed. Threw the napkins in the back of the truck and started to get back in. Then we looked around and saw we were standing on a bunch of petrified wood. We took a few pieces and got back in the truck. 

 

We saw a lone standing hogan. I took a picture. The red rocks towered over the side of the road. We drove until we hit the highway and circled back into Tuba. That was our day. It took a couple of hours but it was just our day.

 

I thought about all of these things as the highway hummed under the truck as we zipped our way on I-40 to Flagstaff. Jesse was asleep. It was just me and my thoughts. 

 

I hadn’t had a chance to really process the loss of my auntie until I saw my cousin Poozie in the lot at my Aunt Mary’s house. When I got out of the truck in Tuba, I just grabbed her and cried. We both cried and sobbed. It was the first time I felt the grief of the loss of my auntie.

 

Moments later, I was in the arms of my Aunt Mary. Grieving with her the loss of her sister. I have rarely seen my Aunt Mary cry. But she cried and held on to me. 

 

It was at that moment I felt the true loss of my auntie. Being home in the red dirt on the reservation surrounded by family, having the missing piece, I knew the grief I felt. I was finally able to mourn the loss. 

 

In the days to come, we chose Bob Seger songs to memorialize her at the funeral. My cousin prayed and my niece did a beautiful eulogy at the service. Jesse was a pallbearer. We all came together and mourned the loss of our mother, auntie, sister, and grandma.

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