I received a call from my cousin’s wife on Saturday night. She told me that my Aunt Audine had succumbed to pancreatic cancer an hour before.
My aunt was 86, and had only recently gotten the news that she had cancer. Everyone thought she would live a good deal longer.
I thought she would live forever.
Audine was of solid southern stock. A feisty force of nature with a thick Texas drawl. A fiercely devoted Longhorn fan, her lawn sported not Santa at Christmas, but a life sized Bevo, infamous mascot of U.T. When I was growing up, she had a dachshund aptly named Ass-guard. Although as an adult, she tried to convince me he was named after the capital city of the Norse Gods. But knowing my Aunt Audine, I’m not buying it.
She was my mother’s only sister, 9 years her senior.
We talked monthly on the phone with wonderfully long visits. She entertained me with stories from my mother’s impetuous youth, and reminded me of long ago lost great aunts, uncles, and cousins. My grandmother hailed from a family that boasted of 18 children, my grandfather had 13, so there were many relatives to keep straight.
Because of my Aunt Audine, I finally grew to understand my mother’s ways and why ours was such a troubled relationship when I was growing up. Information I so desperately wished I’d had when my mother was alive. I feel as though I could have repaired much damage.
My aunt was my bridge to those people that I loved dearly, and lost early in my life. And now she has joined them and my heart is breaking. I will miss her for as long as I live.
I rest in the knowledge that she is now in the presence of God and is whole and without pain. My prayers are with my cousins and their families, for they have lost their matriarch.
God bless you, sweet Audine. You are so very loved and missed.