Hello In There


« Brain food from the heartland

by Louie b. Free   | 349 entries

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I was never close with my aunt Adelaide...that is, until my mom's cancer got bad. 
 I do remember her from my early childhood - somewhat stern, but never mean.
 A letter from her surfaced, recently. She had written this letter to me, when I was in my teens, something like this: 'Louis, I know you're using drugs. I wont tell your father as I know he'll beat the hell out of you....I won't tell your mother, as it will break her heart...but, I'm telling YOU, to clean it up, get it together !...' 


  I called her 'Atch' more recently as that is what my mom called her. 'Atch', because when my mom was little, Adelaide's baby sister, she couldn't say 'Adelaide' so called her,'Atch'. Doesn't make much sense to me, either.  Atch and I became close after my dad died and my mom's leukemia was getting worse. Bun and I went to see her in the am and Atch in the afternoon, then, we were back in the pm...everyday...EVERYDAY, Atch drove in from western Pennsylvania, regardless of the weather, to see her "Shirley Temple"

I'd call and beg her not to come ' Shirley's ok, call her,Atch, the roads are awful...' Atch came anyway,everyday, even as her husband had Parkinson's . I remember being called to the hospital in the middle of the night. My mom was dying....after she passed, the first call I made was to Atch...to tell her that her Shirley had passed. Atch and I had bonded through my mom's cancer. We shared the love for her. 
 Atch was always very bright, always up-to-date on all the news, learning new languages, sending articles to me, telling me:


 Atch: Louis, you do the crossword puzzles, don't you?

 me: yes 
 Atch: you need to do the Jumble....
 me: I dont like the Jumble
 Atch: Come on Louis, you're bright enough to do the Jumble! These puzzles, the crosswords....keep your mind young!


 Years later, she asked me to get her a glass of wine and said "Remember when I told you to do the puzzles to keep your mind young? Well, that's bullshit, it's a couple of glasses of wine everyday that keeps your mind young.
..and young her mind remained until into her 90s! 
  She was always interested in world events and politics. Atch loved going out to the garden area at the nursing home where she, then, resided.  We were talking  politics, specifically about the Sherrod Brown/Josh Mandel race. She told me she didn't like Mandel. Asking her why, she looked at me and said "I don't know...he just seems like an asshole!" That was Atch, un-apologetically direct !
She was amazing at identifying all of the flowers. 
I recall her,then,  talking more about the past...WAY back with amazing clarity and detail, and, not about current events and politics. Stories about what it was like being one of the first  on the road salesladies, McKelvey's department store, and the guy that came through neighbourhoods sharpening knives, foot pumping his grinding stone. 
  I'll never forget arriving one day and her asking me:
 Atch: "Louis, who are the Kardashians? They're in the news,  and I cannot figure out why !
Try answering that - - try explaining the newsworthiness of the Kardashians!
 Her mind wasn't cooperating with her - her memory fading. 
I visited her regularly, and talked daily, often, multiple times. She wasn't remembering visits or calls, but, kept a sense of humour about it . We'd talk every evening before she'd go to bed, and one evening:
 me: Atch, so, how was dinner tonight?
 Atch: Come on,Louis, you know that I don't even remember what day it is !"

 I always tried to make her laugh. I began telling her that when she turned 100, we were,both, going to strip naked and run through the halls of the nursing home ! She would always laugh  . . . and light up like a Christmas tree, well, like a Chanukah menorah on the 8th night! 
  Atch became a bead-er at the nursing home. She made beautiful beads/necklaces. When anyone would compliment them, she'd take them off and gift them! She made so many necklaces for me....One of the employees told me, that they asked her her who the beads were for....she said "my nephew" the employee responded " you mean your niece" Adelaide responded, " no, my nephew, Louis, he's still a hippie, he wears them! "
When Adelaide first arrived at the nursing home, I'd visit and take her out to the garden, push her through the halls, stopping at the pictures and art on the walls. We came to a framed poster and she insisted that I write down the words. Last weekend, I came across the piece  of cardboard that I wrote the words on :

אַל-תַּשְׁלִיכֵנִי, לְעֵת זִקְנָה;    כִּכְלוֹת כֹּחִי, אַל-תַּעַזְבֵנִי.
Cast me not off in the time of old age; when my strength faileth, forsake me not


My Atch started to slip away and passed last week,at 99 years of age.

What I learned from her will forever be in me, with me....
{thank you..ALL.. at Heritage Manor, staff and management who cared so lovingly for my Atch!}

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