I haven't written much lately. What you see below is a small tribute to my Aunt Dawn. She passed away last month, and I still tear up thinking about the fact that she's not on this earth anymore. I miss her, but wherever she is, I know she's having a grand old time, smiling that smile as wide as the day is long. It's probably summer, she probably has a lot of people over, and there's plenty to eat and drink.
When I think of Aunt Dawn, I think of her sprawling vegetable garden, full of prickly cucumbers and red tomatoes and who knows what else that would be canned or frozen for later use. I think of the velvety petunias out front of her trailer. I think of friends and family teasing her about what all you might find in the big chest freezer in the garage – frozen corn, beans, beef, venison, maybe 4 kinds of ice cream – and whatever it was you were actually looking for.
I think of her two mailboxes out by the road – the short one for regular mail and the really tall one for air mail. I’m not sure how long they’ve been gone, but I think I was well into double digits before I got the joke.
I think of the two cats Tom and Pandy that she fed at different points in time. I don’t know about Tom, but I think Pandy started out as a housecat that eventually had free access to all of Six Lakes. Eventually, Dawn just let both of them do their own thing. They led their own feline lives, but they could always stop by for a bit to eat and a little affection.
That was how Dawn was – she let you do your own thing but you could always drop by. She would always listen and always offer you a cold Diet Coke or something stronger. I could be myself around Dawn. I could always speak my mind to Aunt Dawn, whether I was 10 or 17 or 38. We may not have always seen eye-to-eye, but we could always shoot the breeze and be ourselves.
One of the first summers at the old farm outside of town, the question was, “What are you doing?” The answer was, “Waiting for the bus.” I don’t remember who came up with that answer – it sounds like something Grandma Neva or Dawn or my Mom could have come up with. It’s a phrase that still makes me smile. We live our lives while we we’re waiting for the bus – planting gardens, traveling, working, just getting by, laughing, crying, having family fests in the summer, making memories. And I’m glad I got to spend some of my time waiting for the bus with my Aunt Dawn.