October 15, 2008

She Had an Offer I Couldn't Refuse

I've never felt close to any aunts or uncles. They are all such... special people. Neither my father's sister nor my mother's brothers seemed to be very interested in forging a relationship with me and in all fairness I wasn't really trying to have one with them either. They're all just these people who knew my parents when and for what it's worth none of them were ever close to my parents so why would they start with me? Eh. Growing up I didn't have this sense of family beyond what my parents created for me. Well, except for one person. She was my godmother and her name is Lynn Sipos.

My mom told me the story about how she met Aunt Lynn in an airport when they bumped into each other at the baggage carousel. I don't know if it was even Aunt Lynn or someone else in the story but according to Mom, she and Aunt Lynn had the same luggage set and they picked up each others' pieces in mistake. They soon figured it out and became best friends. That's all these women needed- a similar taste in luggage design. That story says so much about them each. They had hearts big enough to love a chance stranger for the rest of their lives. Who makes friends like that any more?

I was the first child born to either of them and Aunt Lynn became my godmother. My Aunt Lynn was so much more than a spiritual guide to me. She provided a sense of familial love I wasn't getting anywhere else, the sort of unconditional love you can only get from someone who doesn't make up 50% of your DNA. She was the aunt I never had.

Both of our families were in the military so we didn't live near her for the vast majority of our relationship. That didn't matter. I always knew she was thinking of me. She never forgot a birthday, a Christmas, or even an Easter. It's not that she showered me with gifts, not at all. All it took was a card or a note she dropped in the mail. I kept every thing she did give me which included a crocheted blanket, a money bank with a misspelling of my name, a copy of Anne of Green Gables with an inscription from her. Her thoughtfulness was how I knew she loved me as if I were blood.

Aunt Lynn died of breast cancer when I was ten years old. She was the first person I knew to die. She was the first dead person I'd ever seen. And hers was my first funeral, to which I wore a pink dress, a dress she made for me. I remember the wet and dark drive to her service. No one really said anything. We either couldn't comprehend, couldn't understand, or were just young. We drove straight to the funeral home and I bee-lined to her casket. I didn't know what to do so I knelt beside her and prayed. I prayed and I meant it for the first time in my life. I yelled at God for taking this beautiful woman from this shithole. It was the first time I was ever mad at God and all I could do was realize how much I would miss her. I don't even think I cried.

I cried later, once I realized how present she was in my life. For years I would tear up when I thought about her being gone and what she did for me. I never got to know her for myself. I only really knew of her. Sure, she visited with her family and we had a sort of correspondence but what could a ten year old really know about her godmother? I'm sure if she saw some of my temper tantrums she wouldn't have liked me that much. Just as well. I wonder about all the things she could've taught me but I'll never forget what she did. I know she's still out there somewhere. Someone with a heart like that doesn't ever really leave this spiritual plane. She's here with me every birthday, Christmas, or Easter. I still love her. And I miss her terribly.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and I recommend going to http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/ and clicking on the big pink button once a day, every day. All the sponsors of that site will donate money to provide free mammograms to women in need with every click. I do it every day so please join the fight. It's so easy to do.


Lauren said...

i would like to give you a hug. right now.

dad said...

Your Aunt Lynn was the sweetest, gentlest person I ever knew, no exageration. And no small feat, since her dad was one of the biggest curmudgeons I ever met. Her husband, uncle Nick, is still my best friend. We all lost big when she passed away. Thank you for telling me about the website, I will visit every day, in her memory.