I did not want to have to tell you this, and so I put it off. But now, given a little space from the loss, I can write about it.
Evelyn Marie Fisher, my great-aunt and the matriarch of our large family, known affectionately among us as "Babe", passed away September 1st. She was 92. Six weeks ago we learned, somewhat accidentally, that she had cancer but we chose not to tell her. Instead, my cousins brought her home from the hospital to her little house where we've had so many family gatherings, and surrounded her with love and light until she went to be with the angels. Father Gerry was called in to give Aunt Babe the Last Rites. While he was there, my cousin Cheryl said, "It's okay, Mama, you can go home to Daddy now." My auntie replied with typical aplomb, "Why? I'm not dying today." And, good as her word as always, she hung on for two more days. I think she did so just to prove the priest wrong. The love of being right is a trait that runs deep among the women in my family.
I adored her. She was unfailingly supportive of me. When I announced my engagement several years ago she called me and said, "I'm so happy for you, honey! You should be married. You'll be so happy." Six months later when I broke that engagement she called me to say, "Bah! Who needs a husband? Marriage is not all it's cracked up to be." She and my grandmother (her sister) always took my side in my frequent arguments with my younger brother, and it is an eternal mystery to me why he ever bothered to try to rat me out to either of them. Breaking up a fistfight between my younger brother and I on her side porch one summer when I was about 8, she famously referred to him as "that heifer", forever earning my absolute loyalty and admiration. It was my Aunt Babe who taught me that any unkind remark about someone can be made less terrible by adding "bless her heart" to the end of it, that if you burn a cake you can just saw the bottom off of it and serve it anyway with lots of frosting, that swear words should be whispered, and that the best cure for any heartbreak is a good cry and a talk with the women who love you.
She guided us all with humor, grace, and fierce strength. Our lives are the richer for having known her and we are now poorer in her absence. "Eternal rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen."