Yesterday morning, my cousin Cynthia Rene called and asked if I was sitting down. Wondering if perhaps my country cousin had “hit the lottery” I sat down. Next, I was asked if my twin sister, Cindy Daniel was with me since she usually is, but she was actually across town doing her “Proctor & Gamble” gig. I quickly got to the point and asked what was going on as I’m not very good at patience when awaiting surprise news. I was told that my beloved Aunt (and surrogate Mom) Shirley Dickson had suffered a heart attack and was scheduled for a double bypass at Harris Methodist Hospital.Our family friend, Leah who had spent a lot of time at the DanielDivaDiggs during her high school years was (thankfully) the nurse assigned to our Aunt in the Cardiac Care Unit. Many of my nieces friends thought of my saucy twin sister, Cindy Daniel as not only a surrogate Mom but also their “second home.” Leah was a wonderful and well mannered young girl who had a dream of becoming a nurse and worked diligently to achieve her goals. Both my sister and I are very proud of all of the children who considered our homes their own and found their calling in various career paths.
The phone call and accompanying text of Leah had my fearful of calling my sister (on the job) to advise her of the frightening next several hours while our Aunt was in surgery. Knowing that I would have to advise my family of the “news” was an emotional undertaking for me because my Aunt is the Matriarch of the Dickson Family as much as I am the Matriarch of our family. What would happen to everyone else should something happen to Aunt Shirley?
Shocked, I began to cry and panic while speed dialing my sister at the possibility of losing someone who had practically helped raised myself, my twin and our brother while raising her own children.I quickly began praying for her recovery while remembering that Cindy and I had just been to Gordon for the Fall Festival a few weeks earlier and realized how delicate and fragile life actually is. Illness and death are unexpected and effectively a “sucker punch” to the friends and families anxiously waiting in surgery waiting rooms for good news. Our surgery waiting room had television monitors to advise families of the steps their loved ones were undergoing. I found this odd and somewhat impersonal with everybody staring at these monitors like weary travelers at an airport trying to find their departure gate.
Sitting with my family and remembering having fun with them just weeks earlier, I quickly realized that these kids who had grown up arguing together, doing chores together and going to church together we’re now sharing the nail biting experience of awaiting the fate of our loved one with many other families in the exact same circumstances. The frightening element of being with these folks was not unnoticed by my family- we talked to the other families and we knew that effectively “we were all in this together!” It didn’t matter where you lived, how much money you made or where you worked. When you are in a surgery waiting room, everyone is an equal. I realize that my life without an Aunt who treated all six of “her children” as equals is so important to the group of relatives sitting together in the surgery center and I pray that my Aunt has many more happy years with her family. Hug your wife today, tell your children you love them and be thankful this holiday season for the cousins you grew up arguing with and the family that loves you no matter how your lives have changed as adults. My cousins are very different from us but they are still happy to see Cindy and I enter that room and run to hug us as I remember the days of our time together digging post holes, praying before a meal and opening gifts together on Christmas morning I’m thankful that I had a family to share those memories with and I’m thankful that my Aunt is now breathing on her own…
I went to visit my Aunt yesterday and found her to be alert and walking which surprised me. As usual, she asked if “all of us kids were getting along?” Yes, we are all too old for the petty arguments that took up a large portion of our childhood and as adults now cherish our time together as precious. Our three “country cousins” accept that their “city cousins” might live a different lifestyle in “town” but, we no longer argue about our different opinions. As adults we “band together” and weather our storms together as a team.
Wendy M Wortham