April 9, 2001:
This morning my favorite aunt passed away at the age of 73.
Aunt Penny was the most wonderful woman I have ever known. She had the most WONDERFUL sense of humor, deep laugh, and a temper as dark as her flashing brown eyes!
When I was a child she came to visit us every summer, traveling down from San Francisco, and stayed with us for a week. During that time, my life was transformed! This woman would take over my bedroom (which I gladly offered) and I was always amazed by her. My mother never wore make-up, nail polish, or made much fuss about the way she looked except on special occasions. Aunt Penny was a PRINCESS as far as I was concerned!
She would get up in the morning and come to the table in her lovely flowing silk nightgown and robe, slip a cigarette into her holder, and start sipping her coffee. After having some toast, she would then begin her morning ritual: she had creams and lotions and powders and potions; she had REAL perfume and red fingernail polish on her long manicured nails. And everytime she came to visit, her hair was a different color: sometimes auburn, sometimes brown, even blonde a few times!
Aunt Penny was the one who taught me how to dress, smell, act, walk, and talk like a woman. She is the one who sat down and explained "the birds and the bees" to me; she was the one to comfort me when I experienced my first "monthly" episodes. She was there when I had my children, she cried with me when my heart was broken, she was there for me when my parents were not.
I will miss her so much! She lived just a few miles from me, and we had our weekly phone conversations and coffee. Just last week she called me and asked me to go to Marie Callendars and pick up a Strawberry Pie, because she was putting on the coffee. Oh, how that woman loved strawberries!! I had spoke to her just recently and we had made plans for "pie and coffee . . . come Thursday".
The pie was never purchased and shared; the coffee never poured. Sadly, this morning I received the phone call that I had been dreading for so long: Aunt Penny is now gone.
No more scent of Shalimar in the air . . . no more Chanel. No more laughter and baudy jokes to share. No more phone calls telling me where to get the best deals on fruits and vegetables. No more stories of when she was young and wild . . .
It's all gone now, except for my memories and I truly feel as if my heart has been ripped from my chest. It just hurts SO BAD. I always promised that I would be strong when this day came, and we have talked about it so often in the last few months. I want to be strong, but I don't know how.
Aunt Penny . . . I love you, and yes I'll remember what you've told me: you haven't died; you've only gone to Paris.
With all my love,