Wow, I can't believe a whole month has passed since my last blog entry. It's been a crazy time too, what with the Swine Flu knocking me upside my mellon head! I almost ended up in the hospital. Well, you would too if it felt like a thousand pound pachyderm had taken up residence on your chest! Thank goodness it was cleared up in time for my trip to Evansville!
Two days after I'd taken my last antibiotic, and notified all my blogging friends and critique groups that I was off to the land of no computer access, I drove from Florida to Indiana with my aunt Janie (my mother's sister). We went to see my great-aunt Bonnie (my grandmother's sister).
Aunt Bonnie is an 82 year-old pistol. She'd called my aunt Janie three times in September to remind her that we'd promised to return for a visit (4 years earlier), "...and it's high time you girls made good on your promise!" she scolded. "Besides, I could drop dead at any moment, and then wouldn't you be sorry!" Mind you, this old woman is the only person on the face of the earth who could convince me to walk away from my keyboard and drawing table for a week! You see, "Bonnie Jean" (my mother's namesake) holds my heart in her hands.
From the time I was a little child, I looked forward to aunt Bonnie and uncle Paul's yearly trek to Florida, with my three cousins in tow. I couldn't wait for them to pull up in our driveway. The excitement was overwhelming. It meant that summer had truly arrived and along with it, someone who loved me more than life itself. I couldn't wait to sit beside her and receive the love that oozed from her very pores. She smelled clean, like fabric softener and she wrapped her arms around me in the way that I wished my mother would. I longed for it, and it was as if aunt Bonnie knew it would have to last me the whole year long.
During those summer visits, the boys and uncle Paul would pack up their fishin' poles, grab a cooler full of cokes, and run off with my grandfather and his boat. We all knew we'd be having fish for supper all week long and that pleased me just fine! Grandaddy had moved to Florida to fish, so he was in his element when Aunt Bonnie's boys came to town. I knew that he'd be smiling for the duration of their stay, and it was the most smilin' he do all summer. This very fact was all that allowed me to share him for a while without any argument. My granddaddy was my hero.
While the boys were out in the Gulf, it gave us girls a chance to visit. I got along fine with my cousin Tammie. We played sweetly together, but I was always aware that she was a year older than me. She seemed so smart, and she fought with her brothers in a way that I wouldn't have dared. I thought it was odd that aunt Bonnie defended her so. It was usually Tammie who started the fights!
It's been years since I thought about those summers. I remember thinking aunt Bonnie must be rich, because they could afford a hotel on the beach for a whole week! I always had a dark tan by the time she left to return to Evansville....taking my heart with her.
When aunt Bonnie knew we were coming, she could hardly wait until we pulled up in the driveway. Her excitement was overwhelming. It meant that Fall had truly arrived and along with it, someone who loved her more than life itself.
If it's true, and this was my last opportunity to be with her, then the last hug will be all the sweeter. It will have to last longer this time. She hugged me goodbye as if she knew it. The soft smell of her will be with me always, and there's great comfort in knowing that all that love will be waiting for me on the other side.