A wonderful woman passed away today. She went in for a biopsy on her lung on Tuesday, and never woke up. I think I’m still in shock. I left work this evening, worried about stupid stuff, things that need to get done, the car, etc. Then a call from my sister, and everything changes. None of the stuff I was thinking about mattered.
My Great-Aunt Margaret was an amazing person. I used to love listening to her stories. I loved the sound of her voice, the sound of her accent, the way she would say; “And how are you doing love?” Or better yet, her temper when my husband made the mistake of calling her “Ma’am.” I don’t think she EVER let him forget it either!
I remember as a child, hearing the story of how she and my Uncle Robert first met. Aunt Meg was born in England. She came to the United States looking to marry John Wayne. I don’t think she expected to meet THE John Wayne, but maybe somebody like him. Instead, she met and married my Grandma’s youngest brother, who is the complete opposite of John Wayne. They were married to each other for
55 56 years, never had any children, and are one of the few examples I’ve had in my life of what a successful marriage looks like.
I only have happy memories when I think of the two of them. My Aunt Meg and Uncle Robert were the ones that taught me how to play UNO and dominos. She taught me about being a sore winner and a sore loser. Aunt Meg gave my sisters and I books, and subscriptions to World magazine. She encouraged us to read. I always knew how much she loved my sisters and me. I never doubted it, even though I was constantly told; “Aunt Meg doesn’t really like children.” She used to hold us, and squeeze us, and give us kisses. It wasn’t until I got older, that I discovered that she REALLY didn’t like kids in general, but she loved my father when he was a little boy, she loved us girls, and when my son was born, I never doubted that she loved him too.
It was only about a month ago, maybe not even that long, that Aunt Meg was teaching my son how to play dominos. She and Uncle Robert were spending a weekend at my Dad’s house. It was nice. She’d been there for three generations of nieces and nephews. She and my uncle took really good care of themselves. They NEVER seemed old to me. Then again, most of my family seems to be perpetually stuck in the mindset of a twenty-five year old.
The last memory I have of my Aunt Meg and Uncle Robert was of the two of them together. My aunt was trying to get food ready. She used to make this salad using green Jell-O that look completely disgusting and was absolutely delicious. My uncle was having fun teasing my aunt. I believe he gave her a pinch on the tush when he thought no one was looking. The “Oh ROB!” followed by her playfully slapping him on the arm, was always the giveaway.
Fifty-five Fifty-six years of marriage, and I remember my Uncle Robert still looking at her as if they were both a couple of teenagers in love.
I know my Uncle Robert will be missing his wife terribly. We all will. But when I think back on the life that she lived, all I can think of is how fortunate it was for all of us that she married into our family. John Wayne missed out on a truly wonderful woman.