Dear Aunt Peg,
I realize that you are ninety years old, that you’ve had a good life, and that one of the reasons we had your birthday in June instead of August was that you said you felt you didn’t have much time left. (The other reason, of course, was that August weather in SoDak is brutal.)
You’ve been a great auntie. Everyone should have a great-aunt as funny, spry, and sweet as you are, so I know you won’t find it offensive when I ask you that, if this intestinal blockage that has you in the hospital tonight is going to kill you, you could manage to die by Halloween, or hold on til December. Not that I want you to die. Of course I don’t. We aren’t ready to let you go yet, though I know you’ve said you’re getting kind of tired.
But you see, November is a suckful month in our family. My grandfather (your brother), my uncle Merrell, my cousin Eddie, Ginny who thought I was her birthday cousin because we share the same birthdate….all these people died in November, and frankly, if one more person in our family dies in November I’ll have to strike that page from the calendar. Not just MY calendar. THE Calendar. The one that determines when we observe things like Labor Day and Daylight Savings. You know. The big one. The official One.
And removing November would be pretty horrible for the people who have birthdays then, for all the folks who participate in NaNoWriMo, for the people who like to vote (we’d have to make sure November 2008 was put back in, at least), and for all the people who’ve never seen the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and should, as well as all the people who have, and want to again, and never miss it on TV.
I’ve lost enough family this year, Aunt Peg: Uncle Stan, Cousin Pat, Aunt Gwen…and I’m sad about all of them, of course, but you and I are actually kind of close, in the way that great-aunts and grand-nieces can be. We’ve shared Christmases, hotel rooms, and illicit cups of coffee together.
So here’s the deal. No dying. Because frankly, with Pat having died just last week, and my grandmother’s death in 2000 pretty much destroying Christmas, October and December are hanging by mere threads, and if we excised a whole quarter of a year, people might get a bit tetchy.
So, use all that Klindienst stubbornness and Chapman stamina, and the sweetness from the frosting of every cake you ever decorated, and bundle it up and get better.
Because if you don’t?
I’ll make my mother sing at you.