“Mamaw always said she wanted to go to sleep one night and wake up in Heaven the next morning.” My cousin shared this story with my mother when he called to tell her that her aunt, my grandmother’s 99-year-old sister passed away on Saturday. More in keeping with the funny, exuberant woman I always knew and loved, my grandmother’s other sister, 95 years old herself, recalled the quote in another way: “What she actually always said was ‘I want to go to sleep and wake up dead.”
At today’s funeral, my aunt was remembered as the grandmother and great-grandmother who let her much-loved grandkids eat ice cream for breakfast if that’s what they wanted. As a woman who went from being caught dancing in church as a teenager (absolute scandal in the rural Texas Methodist church of the 1920s!) to pillar of the church community as an adult. As someone who, each and every time she saw you, would tell you that you looked as good as you ever had and that you obviously had lost weight.
Above all, she loved her family and her friends. She wanted people to feel good about themselves and always brightened up a room. At 81 years old, she comforted a young bride-to-be when one of the bridesmaids showed up with a dress that was shorter than all the rest by setting to work letting it out the night before the wedding. And all the time she worked, she told stories of her own mother and what a wonderful seamstress she was. Of the dresses that she and her sisters would see in the old 1920s movies and sketch out for their mother to replicate. She saved my sanity at that moment when a hemline seemed desperately important. I only wish that she hadn’t been the only one to inherit my great-grandmother’s talent in that area.
So many, many things have changed in the years between 1908 and now. I can only imagine what life might be like in 2067 if I’m fortunate enough to live that long. But what I do know is that if I’m remembered half as fondly in the end by my family as my aunt is by hers, I will have lived a successful life.
And I’m so pleased that in the end, my aunt got her wish. She predicted it all along. So I’ll end by saying, sleep well. Sleep well.