Widow’s Night

Until I was 21 I thought members of my family were immortal. But in a couple of days, one of my grandmother’s sisters is going to die.

She’s 96, and she’ll be singing ‘I Did It My Way’ until the curtain closes.

There were nine of them — six sisters and three brothers — and until a few years ago, eight of them were going strong. Suddenly we are about to be down to three. There is an update. Please see comments.

The youngest is 80, but you wouldn’t believe more than 60 if you saw his tanned, laughing self dismounting his motorcycle.

I’ve got great genes.

Starting in 1992 and within eight years, all the sisters’ husbands died. Just after, I was in the grocery store buying avocados, and an old lady struck up a conversation about guacamole mix.

“I buy this Holy Guacamole,” she said. “My husband died, and there’s no point cooking a meal for just one, so every night I heat up frozen taquitos and make this Holy Guacamole.”

She told me she eats in front of the TV while Wheel of Fortune is on. She followed me around the produce section talking about Pat Sajak. This was a lonely woman.

I imagined all my aunties eating microwave taquitos in front of Wheel of Fortune. I thought, ‘I fix a homecooked meal every night. It would be no big deal to double the recipe have the aunties join us.’

So I called them all up and invited them for dinner and games. We had a blast. We decided to do it the first Friday of every month. We called it Widow’s Night.

The news of our private parties spread quickly through the family, as my cousins tried to plan things with their moms. They got denied. Widow’s Night was sacred.

There was laughter, especially with my kids’ answers in Balderdash or clues in Taboo, or when the sisters criticized each other’s card dealing, but there were tears too.

They talked one night about how it felt to give away their husbands’ clothes.

Auntie Martha saw teenagers at the mall holding hands, and realized she would never walk around holding hands again. The others nodded. ‘We had the same moment.’

Auntie Roxie heard her husband’s voice one night telling her it was late, put the book down and turn off the damned light.

Sometimes Auntie MaryAnn would get on the piano and play songs from back when, and the others would dance around. They rarely left before midnight.

We did this for years. Then we started our kitchen remodel and had to put it on hold. During this time Auntie Martha died. Then my son started high school and football games got in the way. Then we moved to a house with no dining room.

Auntie Mags died last spring at 97. Auntie MaryAnn is Hospice care. We’ll be down to two widows.

I was wrong to let all the ‘and thens’ get in the way. Widow’s Night was supposed to be sacred.

Link to photos


3 Responses to “Widow’s Night”

  1. T. Says:

    I just got a call from my mom. MaryAnn is going to be fine.
    What they thought was a mass in her colon was just swelling from her surgery — the first surgery of her life — the other day.
    It was probably just gas, actually.
    She’s happy to be home.
    When my aunt tried to put the pad under her on the bed, MaryAnn grabbed it and flung it across the room. She said she didn’t want anything from that hospital near her.
    She does it her way.

  2. My husband cracks me up « Stories O’ Mine Says:

    […] Her dinner news was that a couple of her youngest brother’s daughters and their kids were at MaryAnn’s […]

  3. My husband cracks me up « Stories O' Mine Says:

    […] Her dinner news was that a couple of her youngest brother’s daughters and their kids were at MaryAnn’s […]

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