Friday, August 20, 2010


My Aunt Ninny lost her battle with pancreatic cancer yesterday morning.

I'd love to be able to put together some amazingly deep and profound essay about the gallant battle she fought and how she's "in a better place with God" right now. But guess what? Cancer is one sneaky bastard and this totally sucks. I don't have anything profound to say about losing my sixty year old aunt. And the only thing that's deep is the pain I'm feeling right now.

I'm not going to write up some flowery tribute to her though. Because honestly if I did, I'd be afraid Ninny would materialize in front of me and say "You have GOT to be kidding me! You're going to sit there and write that crap with a straight face?" And then she would roll her eyes, shake her head and declare "I need some coffee!" Ninny never was one for holding back on what she thought. That was okay with me though because I knew she loved me. She was one of those people that if she loved you, she LOVED you, and you never doubted it for one second. And if she didn't, well, you knew that too.

Ninny was one of the most giving people I knew. Not just in material things, but in giving her time. A meal, a ride or a new perspective on a problem was yours for the asking. She would give you the shirt off her back if she thought it would make you more comfortable. But she could also wipe the smile off your face if you got in her cross hairs.

A lot of her life was spent making the world around her a more beautiful place. Ninny grew the most amazing flowers in her gardens and the things she could do with ordinary wall paint were incredible. She loved animals and kids like no-one I know. I mean, the woman could get along with my parent's evil little terrier better than anyone. I think she may have been the only person he came into contact with that he never bit. Now, whether that's because she knew how to soothe the savage beast or whether he just recognized a kindred spirit, we'll probably never know.

But mostly, I don't want her life and my memory of her to boil down to her fight at the end.

I want to remember her as the full of life, full of piss and vinegar aunt that loved me and my family so fiercely. I want to remember the Ninny that stood on her tiptoes on the top step of our fourteen foot ladder so she could paint the high parts of my home because even though I was four inches taller and twenty years younger, I was too scared to do it. And that she made me feel better about being such a wuss.

I want to remember the spiritual woman who insisted on going up to Sedona to visit the vortex. She was right, there was something awesome and peaceful about the place. The real miracle was that we all made it up there with minimal complaints and a stroller carrying Master J. We had some stranger take a picture of the four of us standing on a rock that day. Somehow the picture came out in black & white and I have no idea where my child was while it was being taken but seeing it brings back great memories.

I want to remember the Ninny that adored Master J from the first time she met him at a few weeks old and how she always said he was so special and wonderful. She had complete faith that he would do something great with his life, even when he was testing me to the limit. She also got him a drum set for his fourth birthday, I'm not sure I've forgiven her for that one yet.

And I'm even okay with remembering her like this...

because she was beautiful and smiling in spite of what life had handed her.

So, do I think she's "in a better place with God" now? Yeah, I do. But I have a strong suspicion it's because God might have needed some help at the Pearly Gates. Someone who would welcome with open arms all those who were coming in. And maybe someone who could help keep out the riff-raff that might try to sneak in as well. Sort of a heavenly bouncer. I think she would be perfect for that job.

If there's internet access in Heaven (and why wouldn't there be?), I hope she reads this and knows that what I'm really trying to get at is that I loved her fiercely too. And I'm missing her like crazy. Love ya Ninny!


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much sweet daughter,Ninny sured loved you too and would have been happy to hear and see what you wrote. The amazing thing is that she never complained about having cancer but hated not being able to be the free spirit she always was. I bet she is doing her own thing once again..Everyone was so moved by your beautiful tribute at the funeral and the one thing I heard several times was"boy she sure knew Ninny" and you did!
Love you!

Sharon Pisiakowski said...

So sorry for your loss. I don't think I ever met her, but she sure sounds like a spitfire and a blessing to have had her in your life.