Love Ya, Dear

She was regal and elegant and loved the Dukes of Hazzard.

She was regal and elegant and loved the Dukes of Hazzard.

It was three years ago this morning that I got a call from Mama.  “She’s gone,” was all she could choke out before she broke into sobs.

Mama would call my great Aunt Eloise, lovingly called “Aunt Wease,” every morning and every evening to check on her.  Mama traveled the hour and fifteen minute trip down to see her and stock her pill caddy with all her medicines at least once a week.  When Daddy went to Emory for those many weeks, and when Mama couldn’t leave him, my crew and I went down.  I am not happy about the reason, but I am thankful for those visits.

That morning Mama had tried to call and had not gotten an answer.  She had to drive Daddy to an appointment up in Macon for his MRI, so she waited and tried again when she got to their office.  When she still didn’t get an answer, she called Aunt Wease’s sweet neighbor, who basically had to break in and found her.  Bless her, she had passed on in her sleep.  Peacefully.  We were heartbroken.  And thankful.  She was at the point of having to make some hard decisions about moving out of a home she knew better than the back of her hand.

I told Mama I would pick Daddy up so she could make the long and lonely drive down.  I picked him up and spent the day with him at their house.  A day that was very long for Mama.  Making calls.  Planning.  Answering questions.  Making decisions one is not equipped to make in that state.  A regimen I now know all too well.  Bless her.

She asked me that evening if I wanted to speak at the service.  At first I said no.  But as I thought about it, I could not let her only be remembered by the pastor who had maybe met her once.   So I sat at the keyboard and poured out my memories and my heart.  I gave the eulogy that first Saturday in May looking out at my Daddy who was fighting his own battle with death, and my Mama, sitting holding the hand of my baby girl.  My Mama lost the woman who was a mother to her, and we had lost our grandmother.

It was after this service that Daddy teased me and asked me if I would give his eulogy.  I said yes, praying it would be a long, long time.  It was a way too soon eighteen months later.  

She was a wonderful contradiction of pearls, never wear white before Easter or after Labor Day, color coordinated everything, ending a phone call or visit with “love ya dear,” and loving those Duke Boys or taking us fishing.  What follows is what I shared that day about a beautiful woman who loved me as a granddaughter and helped shape who I am becoming–

May 1, 2010

Eloise Holder McQueen was many things before I came to know her—a daughter, a sister, a friend, a hard worker, and a wife. When I came to know her, she was just Aunt Wease, and yet she was so much more. From her jelly jar glasses to her love of easy listening music and the Dukes of Hazzard, she was a fascinating woman. She made me feel special—she never failed to make me feel beautiful, from when I was little, playing dressup in her clothes, until the last time I saw her. She taught me about beauty—“The sooner you wear makeup, the sooner you’ll need it.”

In the true essence of “it’s all better at Grandma’s” I can still taste the PET milk she
had—the best in the world, nothing like what Mama had. She made me feel grownup. She took me to her ladies’ meeting and she let me drink coffee (which was mostly the aforementioned PET milk!). She shared her wisdom—“If you hold your nose when you go under water, you’ll make your nose pointy.” She was a wonderful cook (or so I thought)—I thought it was a true sign of class to put almonds in casseroles like Aunt Wease always did. She was a classy and beautiful lady. When she loved you, she loved you fiercely and she loved you too much to let you slide. Recently during a visit, she pointed to my younger daughter and said, “She has beautiful hair.” I murmured a thank you, to have her promptly say, “It would be really beautiful if you’d run a brush through it.” (She was right!)

I also recently learned that she was not the cook that I remembered—she told me stories, laughing, about how she really didn’t like to cook. She had a great sense of humor. Over the years, Uncle Ray encouraged me to tease her constantly, asking her when she was going to get her hair fixed, though she had just been to the beauty shop the day before. This is something she and I have continued over the years. We still shared a love of Tweety Bird that Uncle Ray started years ago. Mostly she gave me the gift of time—we played Go Fish, she took me for ice cream, she took me fishing, we talked, and we laughed.

I have been blessed to know many strong women in my life—my Granny, my friends, my aunts, my sisters, and my Mama. Just as much a blessing are the strong men who love them and encourage them to be strong. Aunt Wease was just such a spunky woman, blessed by just such a man, Uncle Ray. They were best friends, travel companions, and so very, very dear to me. My favorite memory of them, and there are many, is when my friends showed up to go to our high school graduation together, and they told me there was a couple stopped on the side of the road about a mile from our house, putting signs on their car. It was Aunt Wease and Uncle Ray—putting on “Tara is Tops” and other such made up stuff to celebrate with me. Such silly fun.

God blessed me with Aunt Wease, and Aunt Wease gave me three great gifts—
She loved me fiercely.
She adored and loved on my children and not only allowed, but encouraged them to do things I was never allowed to do in her beautiful home!
She raised my Mama with love and kindness to be a strong woman too. Her legacy lives on through us today. Love fiercely, travel with laughter, give great hugs, be strong, and always say goodbye with “Love ya, dear!”

Aunt Wease and my ya dears!

Aunt Wease and my Mama… ya dears!

One thought on “Love Ya, Dear

  1. Pingback: for the three | I Might Need A Nap

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