My father had 2 brothers and 3 sisters–all older than him. His oldest sister, Audrey, died in 1996 and I have shared my thoughts and love for her already.
This week, their sister RoseMary, aka Mickey, joined them in heaven. The day after what would have been my father’s 74th birthday, Mickey had a heart attack that ended her life.
Even her name is special….RoseMary….not Rosemary nor Rose Mary….but RoseMary. This was not unusual for a German family. She had no middle name, but a very unique first name.
Her family nickname was Mickey, as she was born the same year as Mickey Mouse. I remember when my father died, his brother Don came to me after he had read dad’s obituary. He said to me, “You know that Aunt Mickey’s real name is RoseMary?” I said, “Yes, but since we all grew up knowing her as Mickey, we decided to go with that.” He just shook his head at me.
She was a wonder to me. I didn’t know her like I knew her sister Audrey and like her sister Janet. Mickey and I never exchanged letters on a monthly or even yearly basis. If anything, an occasional phone call and the Christmas card were our main forms of communication. And the family reunions where we could hug and talk and just spend time with each other. So I am thankful that she was able to attend the last one in 2011.
She always amazed me. She was the first person in our family to divorce her spouse…and that sent shock waves through the family. I remember when it first happened, everyone tried to hush it up, as if not speaking about it would make it not so. I talked to her daughter about it last year at the last reunion, where I learned what happened and how hurt Mickey was that her family seemed to ostracize her over it. I told her, it didn’t matter what the reason was. I knew Mickey and I knew that Mickey would not divorce over something silly or ridiculous. I knew it had to be something serious. And I told her daughter that I admired her mother for having the courage to get out of the situation.
I admired her for not only divorcing, but then at her age of over 40 to go back to school and earn a degree in social work so that she could support her 3 children and herself. That was almost unheard of 40 years ago that someone would be an older student going to college, working, and supporting 3 children at home. I know women today that wouldn’t do half of that much less be successful at it.
My biggest regret over my aunt, is that she was the only aunt I was not able to visit in her own home. I still kick myself when I think about the year I tried to go up to see her, and was not able to.
In the past 2-3 years, Mickey survived breast cancer…and the treatments. She had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And just 3 months ago, she had fallen, breaking her hip and clavicle. She had just come home from rehabilitation when she had a heart attack and died later that night.
Mickey was devoted to her faith. In many ways she surprised me in that regard. She told me once of some Catholic traditions. One was placing a statue of St Joseph upside down buried outside of your front door if you are trying to sell your house. Another was having a Mass said in honor of someone 30 days after their death as a Month’s Mind.
She was admired and loved and she is missed. Although I lived over 2000 miles away, I feel as though a piece of my life is missing.
Mickey….Rest in Peace….and may God eternal light shine upon you.