Mabel Evans – Rest In Peace

It’s a cold night here in Boston when my phone rings. My mom is on the other line with some sad news she doesn’t really want to share. Aunt Mabel passed away yesterday. She was ninety-something years old, one of my grandmother’s sisters, one of the Hancock Sisters, and the last of that particular branch of the family tree.

We each deal with death of loved ones in our own way, and even then, no two deaths effect us quite the same way. Like so many other people, I never really know what to say. There are so many things running through my head right now, not the least of which is the fact that I’m only about four hours away from much of my family, and yet I can’t be with them during this time. And then I start thinking about this new job that I’m training for, and I think about how I was raised by my mother and my grandparents and my great aunts and uncles, and how so much of what they instilled in me has informed who I am at this moment. And the more I think about these things, the more I think about other things, and then I’m lost in a world of thought that comes so fast and furious that it overwhelms, and makes me feel like I have nothing to say, when in fact, I have volumes.

But it is cold in Boston right now, and I’m tired, and feeling just a little bit sad, and I’m thinking maybe I should keep it simple. It is often the simple things that mean the most, and the simplest of memories that are the most vivid. It is the simple love that is the best, because it is the most pure, untouched by complexities and conditions that can complicate and dilute an emotion that should be nothing but pure.

In the most simple of terms, I loved Aunt Mabel. My grandmother had four sisters (in the picture above, from left to right is Marge, Mabel, Gail, Great Grandpa Charles, Nannie [my grandmother] and Rosa), and I was close to all of them. But my relationship with Aunt Mabel was a bit different. When I was a kid, my mom and I lived next door to Aunt Mabel and her husband, Uncle Thomas. I’m sure the proximity had something to do with our closeness, but there was more to it than that. She was just fun to be around. We would go for bike rides together, she never complained when I would do summersaults in her living room or pound on her always out of tune piano, and somehow, don’t ask me how, cold water always tasted best when it was served in one of her metal drinking glasses. Whenever I would go see a movie, the next day I would be over at her house, acting out what I’d seen, and she never seemed to mind. She cooked delicious meals, and had this laugh that she always ended by saying, “sho’nuff” or “I do declare.”

The inevitability of death carries with it a sting that can bring considerable pain. But I believe that the pain of loss should never outbalance the joy of living. The sadness that is my only comfort tonight, wrapping its cold clammy fingers around my soul and squeezing tight, is really small and insignificant; because the darkness from the death of Aunt Mabel cannot overshadow the light of her life. Yes, I am sad. But you can’t measure the worth of person by the sorrow brought by their death. You can only measure their worth by the joy they brought in life. And of all the things I could say about Aunt Mabel, was that she brought me great joy.


One Response to “Mabel Evans – Rest In Peace”

  1. shawnlevy Says:

    I always consider myself to have been afforded a genuine treat when you write about your family. Consider yourself hugged (in the manliest of fashions) on the occasion of your loss.

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