Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sissy 's Promise

Carmon's comments on last night's post gave me the idea to tell you about the last time I saw my aunt.

My Aunt Louise was my other mother. She was not judgmental and always listened and simply adored me. She never had kids of her own but managed to have three nieces that she mothered... all of us were about 10 years apart in age and felt blessed by her presence in our lives.

Louise was the only girl of six kids and, as is typical in Southern families, was called "Sister" by her whole family and even my cousins. When I was born, my older sister, who was 22, had always wanted a baby sister to call her "Sister." After I was a year or so old, I couldn't quite work out how there could be two people named "Sister" so I re-christened my aunt "Sissy."

In December 2000, my aunt was not doing well. Her husband had died and my cousins put her in a nursing home. When I drove up from my mother's in Baton Rouge, I found that she had worsened and was in the hospital.

I go to her room; she's not there. I find her at the nurse's station, flirting. This would become one of the strangest visits we ever had.

One minute, Sissy was lucid: "Child, hand me my lipstick... that orderly is CUTE!"

The next she was reliving a traumatic time from my infancy. My father (Sissy's little brother) had a heart attack when I was six months old and was demanding someone bring me to him but the hospital had rules. Seeing me must have brought this memory back and she was rambling on and on: "I swear I didn't bring the baby. Tell them it wasn't me!"

She was back and forth like this all night. They brought her food and she could barely feed herself. So I took over. Afterwards, I was cleaning her up and she was back.

"Honey, I'm not long for this world...no, don't interrupt me. My time is coming and I'm O.K. with that. I miss your Uncle Henry and I really want to see him. And I want to see Jesus. But, you're my baby. I need you to be O.K. with it."

I fought back tears. "When it's your time, you just go. I'll be O.K."

We sat there holding hands for a minute and I got an idea.

"Sissy, would you do me a favor when your time comes?"

"Of course, honey. You name it!"

"Come see me! Come see my new house! I've always wanted you to visit me in California...please say you will."

Her eyes showed her confusion wondering how her feeble body could make the flight and then I saw the twinkle of recognition. She knew full well what I meant. She started nodding her head yes.

"All right, I will. If it's possible, I promise I will be there."

Visiting hours were over and I walked the hike to my car in the Mississippi sleet simply numb. I knew I would never see Sissy again.

I drove the few blocks to her house. My cousins had cleaned everything out. The only thing left was a plaque on the door - a little bit of cross stitch someone at church had given Sissy. It read, "Bless this House and All Who Enter." I took it and when I returned to California, I hung it inside, over my front door.

Sissy recovered and went back to the nursing home. She lasted another eleven months when we talked, I never said another word about her promise.

One night in November 2001, I was awakened by my doorbell... it was really annoying. Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong, Ding Dong nonstop. I glanced at the clock: 3 a.m.

I ran to my door and opened it. There is stunning, bright, golden light stood my Sissy. Only she was young...younger than I had ever known her. She was about 24 and dressed to the nines as was her style. The manicure, the coiffure, the high heels and clothes were all high fashion and immaculate. And oddly enough, I could "feel" my Uncle behind her.

"You came! Come in, come in!"

She never spoke but seemed to communicate without words. She took a few steps into my house and turned, looked up and over her shoulder at my - her - plaque. I hung my head in shame at having stolen from her. She took my chin in her hand and just shook her head. I knew it didn't matter.

The three of us visited for about three hours and were in my garden having tea and looking at pictures, when my phone started to ring. I excused myself and said, "I'll be right back."

I dashed through the living room door and reached for the phone, only I was back in bed and reaching for the phone on the nightstand. Confused, I looked at the clock. 6 a.m.

It was my cousin. My heart sank.

"I've been waiting for it to be late enough to call you. Sister passed away three hours ago."

We talked for a bit but I couldn't get off the phone fast enough to run out to the garden. Gone was the bright light that had bathed us just minutes before, replaced by a grey California dawn. Sissy and my uncle were gone too.

And while this visit only reinforced other things I have seen regarding the hereafter, it made me feel so special. Sissy had been the glue in her family. She loved everyone so much. But it was me she came to see, even before Jesus! How many are lucky enough to have someone love us so much, they would cross time and space and 3000 miles just to keep a promise?

6 comments:

Velvet Sacks said...

Creekhiker, you cannot imagine the goosebumps I had as I read this post--because I had a personal experience very much like it. I've been waiting for the right time to write about my special visitor. Maybe I'll do it tomorrow.

CreekHiker said...

Oh Velvet, Please, Pahleeeze DO!!! I LOVE stories like this. I've had so many but this was the only time I ASKED for it!

Annie said...

That story makes me happy . . . just to hear it and think about it. I'll watch for Velvet's story too.

Katie said...

wow.....wow....thank you. What a beautiful recollection.

Annie said...

I appreciated reading about your very special relationship with your aunt. I have some very special relationships with two of my nieces and one nephew; in some ways I think they consider me the mother they might have had. I wonder if I will ever be able to visit them after I leave this earthly plane?

Carmon said...

Oh thank you so much for sharing this! I had something very similar happen when my mother died and again when my best friend was killed. It's comforting to know others have had visits from lost loved ones. Carmon