Nearly DIED today. Well, not really, but when you start assuring yourself that the "dead man's switch" will turn the mower off before it runs over your unconscious body, yeah, thoughts of death color a woman's flights of fancy.
It got me to thinking of my Aunt Isabel. (Well, she was my mom's aunt.) Her "favorite aunt" is how I was raised thinking of her, and I've heard so many kind stories of her that I feel as if they were my memories. She'd lived through most of the 1900s; the wars, the depression, the recessions, suffragette, Jim Crow, the "Roaring 20s," the "Beat Generation," and Watergate. She'd died when I was less than seven, and in fact, I don't remember her at all.
I do remember the call my mom received when Isabel died. We were in Somerville, Massachusetts, in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment we'd rented from a great Italian-American family with tons of kids. My mom was on a wall phone, next to the refrigerator, the type that couldn't be opened from inside, so are only found in museums now. I remember her leaning against the wall next to the phone, her eyes squeezed tight, her face pinched with pain. My father was home, so it was after work, and he hovered. So, it's true that I don't remember Isabel, but I remember how my mother suffered upon hearing of her passing.
Why, you might ask, was I thinking of "favorite Aunt Isabel" whilst mowing? There's a story in the family about Isabel cleaning windows on her second-floor apartment. (She and her sister, Marion, owned the house, and rented out the first floor.) Isabel liked her windows clean, and back in the day, windows didn't move any way but up or down, so if you wanted a second or third-floor window clean, you had to be a bit of a daredevil. Aunt Isabel must have been, because TWICE she had to be rescued after sitting on a window's casement, two stories up, when the top window slammed and then trapped her fingers. TWICE she was found hanging off the house by her knees and fingers, two stories up, unconscious. Did I mention this happened two stories up, and TWICE?
I suppose being run over by your own mower whilst unconscious might top that story, but mower safety regulation being what they are, I'm relegated to admitting sea salt and Kool-aide saved me from my "cut-grass-scented" flirtation with oblivion. Just doesn't have the same pizzazz, and fails the legend test.
So, here's to you, Aunt Isabel. I'm thinking of you, and long may your legend rein.