arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In Memory of Aunt Mary

It’s only seven weeks or so into the new year and already I want out! I am so tired of 2012; I wish we could fast forward to 2013 now. My reasons are varied.

First, there is the ongoing Romney Gingrich Barnum and Bailey Flying Circus, which only has six months or so to go. Six months! That’s an eternity in political pundit years! Sad, but true, GOP, you will have to make up your mind who you want to run against Obama by the time you hold your convention in late August. Are you feeling the pressure yet?

I am also emotionally worn down by the number of people I have known who have passed away so far this year. It started with a member of Anne Marie’s knitting group in late December. The following week my cousin lost his wife suddenly. The next weekend our neighbor, Earl Wagner, died in a hospice. Anne Marie and I were on our way to his viewing when we got word that my Aunt Mary had passed on. Since then, there has been a fellow cardiac patient in my cardio rehab session die, and last week, my Uncle Hugh’s roommate at the Towne Manor rehab facility passed away.

For those of you keeping score at home, and I don’t know why you would, that makes six people that I have known die in the space of six weeks. I’ve never had these naturally occurring events happen so quickly so close together before in my life. Unfortunately, I guess it is inevitable as I and all of those around me grow older.

Now this rumination on exhaustion with the year and life in general will make a sharp Coen Brothers-style left turn and become a memorial for my aunt, Marybelle Welsh. The weather is keeping us from attending her memorial service today. So, while my cousins celebrate her life and catch up with their own (one of them is traveling in from Indiana), I can at least write a few of my many memories of Aunt Mary.

My oldest recollection of Aunt Mary happened in 1965. Her children, Richie and Paula, had taken me to a matinee at the Ellis Theater on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. Feature film lengths were shorter back then, which enabled them to show two films for the price of one admission. For those of you who were born after 1970, such a program was called a “double feature”. Of course this is different now with multiplexes, where you can pay for one film and sneak in and out of the other theaters at will, or until you get caught. Of course, you didn’t get that idea from me...but I digress.

The first film of the double feature started and it was set in a circus, a nice happy setting which should satisfy the entertainment quota for any five year old. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a chance to appreciate the film's story. In one of the early scenes, a hideous-looking creature appeared on the screen shrieking at the audience. The sight scared the hell out of me, and I made sure that the theater full of children and their parents knew that I was frightened out of my wits. I screamed and started bawling. My cousins couldn’t quiet me down. I don’t know how long I sat there crying, because the next thing I knew I was standing in the lobby with the theater manager and Aunt Mary. (Side note to today’s parents: this is how they dealt with noisy children in public places in the past. The children were removed from the public place, until said child quieted down or cried itself to death, whichever came first.)

In my case, Aunt Mary - who I don’t know to this day if she had been in the theater the whole time, or was called from home to come get me — asked me if I was okay. Yes, I said, calm again and having shed every tear in my system. She then asked, “Do you want to stay to see the movie?” Yes, I said, now looking forward to the second film on the bill: The Outlaws Is Coming, starring my favorite actors at the time, The Three Stooges. This is how I can accurately place this incident as happening in 1965.

Anyway the story ends happily. I got to see The Three Stooges, the horrible creature I saw had left the screen (I later figured out the “creature” was actually a woman wearing a mud pack on her face. What the hell did I know? I was five years old at the time.), and I guess my cousins got to enjoy the rest of their day. As for the theater management, they went to great lengths to stop small children from ever again crying during their shows when, years later, they converted the theater to an adult only venue. Okay, I can’t really say for sure that they started showing x-rated films because of weak-hearted children like me, but some events are too much for the realm of coincidence.

As for Aunt Mary, she went home, where she raised three of the finest human beings I have ever known. I will always remember the hospitality she showed everyone who came to her home. We had many fun times together, including when I stayed with her for three weeks in the summer of 1975. Part of her hospitality was the great food she introduced to me and my brother. Because of her, we have to have her version of macaroni salad (with tuna) in the summer and New Years Eve is not complete without French onion soup chip dip on the table.

This is how I will remember Aunt Mary: always there when you needed her, and always ready to share the joys of life.

Rest in Peace, Aunt Mary.

(Thank you for reading. Only 17 days until payroll taxes go up...AND only 8 days until Phillies pitchers & catchers report for spring training!)

1 Comments:

Anonymous Janey said...

Dear Todd and AnneMarie,

My condolences on your losses... :-(

Love,
Janey

February 12, 2012 at 6:38 AM  

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