Going Home

Mildred Alice Brooks is my maternal aunt, my only aunt.  She has been another mother to me, to my brother, to my sister.  Given the pronounced difference in their ages, she has often been another mother to my mother, too.  On Tuesday she watched Barack Obama take the oath of office, and very shortly after that, she closed her eyes.  I think she held on for Barack, held on so she could see him become our 44th president.  As long ago as last spring she stopped eating, stopped keeping the powerful grip on life that has always defined her for me.  She seemed to have decided she was ready to die.  There’s no reason she should have been able to hang on this long, but hang on she did.  Selfishly, I wish she had been able to hang on a little longer, but I know this is better, that now she has returned to the vibrant, independent woman who has had such an influence on my life, that she is with her mother and her brothers.

She was a biology teacher, a summer camp nature counselor, an herbalist and a naturopath.  She has probably already organized a live-off-the-land trip, set up a butterfly house, taught someone how to paint with flowers, cooked up a batch of chokecherry jam.  I know this is better, but that doesn’t lessen my grief.  Now I have the task of writing her obituary.  How do I condense ninety-four energetic, technicolor years into a few simple paragraphs?

mildred1a

Mildred Alice Brooks, 1914-2009

 

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11 thoughts on “Going Home

  1. Oh, she held on to see it!!! You have mentioned her before and so the tenderness in your words is not new but how she left this world, the images in her 94 year old mind must have made her at peace with leaving the world to you.

  2. Lisa

    Well, I wish obits could be like what you just wrote. Much more meaningful than the usual stuff. I think you should include this part: “She was a biology teacher, a summer camp nature counselor, an herbalist and a naturopath. She has probably already organized a live-off-the-land trip, set up a butterfly house, taught someone how to paint with flowers, cooked up a batch of chokecherry jam. “

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. She sounds like such an amazing and strong woman. I’m sure I would have liked her a lot.

    I’m so glad she got to see Obama’s inauguration. That is so poignant.

  4. Johnnie Generic

    I learned a lot more than just Biology in her class. There was history and civil rights mixed with cooking. I remember how she would lecture while stirring a pot of wild mushrooms set over a Bunsen burner.

  5. Thanks, everyone. She was pretty amazing and a really special person to have as part of our family. It’s been hard the last year watching her slip closer and closer to death, but I am selfish enough to really have hoped that the slide would go more slowly. Saturday’s ceremony was so lovely, though. It really helped soothe some of the ache.

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