My Aunt Margo was a tough old gal. She battled breast cancer for 25 years.
But at age 84 the end was near.
I knew she was dying and I wanted to visit her every day until her death. I got a phone call from an editor at The Detroit News. He wanted me to go out of town for a few days for an assignment.
I told him I did not want to go. I explained the pain I was going through watching my aunt die. I told him how much she meant to me, how much I loved her. He listened patiently.
I thought he’d show some compassion. After I finished my piece there was an awkward moment of silence. He pushed one more time for me to leave my family.
“Well she’s not dead yet,” he said.
I wanted to kill the man — like for real.
“Are you fucking kidding me,” I said.
Later he said “it’s not like its your mother.”
He didn’t understand our relationship. I lived with this women until I became an adult. She was my mother, father and Yoda all rolled into one. She took me to Tigers and Pistons games. She gave me the black man lecture on how to deal with the police. And she took me on trips that she could not afford.
I loved this woman so much.
Before I said something to the editor I really regretted, I hung up the phone.
Those words hurt. This man obviously had no compassion for me or my family. A story meant more than my family. I was both pissed and devastated.
The day I was supposed to leave on the trip my cousin Miss Boots called. She said I needed to visit Aunt Margo that day because she was quickly deteriorating. And she told me to bring her “grand babies.” That is what Margo called my kids. Celine, 5, and Brandon, almost 3 were her grand babies.
Celine had school that day so I dressed Brandon and we drove to my aunt’s house. We climbed the stairs to her second story flat and walked to her bedroom. She lay motionless in the bed. Her skin was a pale gray. I thought I made it too late to say good bye.
“Oh honey bun,” I said.
Her eyes opened. She saw Brandon and her face lit up the room. She appeared to come back to life. Brandon was a little stand offish as a kid. He allowed Margo to hug him and then stood at the foot of the bed while we talked.
I knew this was it. I asked if she were afraid of death. She said she lived a full life and seeing me do well as a journalist made her proud. She was not afraid. She was also appreciative of her “grand babies.”
We talked for nearly two hours. I was so happy that I was not on some plane flying across the country. This is where I belonged.
Brandon was getting antsy. The boy needed to be fed. I told my aunt how much I loved her and appreciated her tough love that helped guide me through turbulent times in my life.
Brandon and I stood by the entrance of her bedroom as I said my final good byes. Then it happened. Brandon raced toward her for one final hug. I don’t know where this came from. But this gesture meant so much to me and it meant the world for a dying woman. She hugged and kissed Brandon and told him he was going to make us all proud of him some day.
I was already proud of him. It was a touching scene — one that brought me to tears in the car.
“Well she’s not dead yet.”
I could not erase those words from my mind. If I went on that road trip this moment never happens. I never get to say so-long to my aunt.
The next morning Boots called me early in the morning. Margo was gasping for air. She was leaving us.
I took a quick shower and rushed to be by her side one more time. By the time I arrived to the house on Vancouver Street the coroner’s wagon was already there. I raced up the stairs just in time to see two men wrap her up in a blanket and sling her onto a gurney.
It was upsetting to see this. However, I had that tiny ray of sunshine that I could hang on to. I thought about how happy she was when Brandon ran back for that final hug. Then my mind clouded again.
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