She and I butted heads every time. And that did not define our relationship. Because she is who I went to.
She was one of the first community health aides in Alaska. Years later, when I was 26, I went yo her because I was struggling emotionally.
I was working as the board secretary at the Norton Sound Health Corporation. And I loved all the board members from the 15 villages and their families.
Then people started dying. Family members of the board folks that I grew to love – and their pain reverberated through me and bounced around the walls of my skin – and I could not shake it off.
So I went to see my Aunt Pudden. She had an oxygen tank and tubes all over the apartment – resembled a vacuum cleaner and the vacuum cord strung around.
My Uncle is like my dad. They just know how to disappear. I remember asking my Aunt – how did she do it? How did she handle the grief being a health aide.
I do not remember if she answered me directly. I do not remember the answer. Damn if there was one, that is one I would live to recall.
I do remember her telling me that through all the years she and Uncle were together, she never truly believed he loved her.
Because she felt unlovable and did not believe it was true.
That I remember clearly and I was shocked.
She ssid she finally realized how much he loved her when she got terminally sick.
He had the doctors teach him every single pill she needed, what for, how often and put them in a pill container-organizer.
She was always vibrant and talented and maybe she thought that if she was not all that she would lise his interest.
But she is his favorite person to rile up. Their romance was so precious. All the things she didn’t like about herself, were the parts he loved the most.
And I know this because he would say some smartass thing and get her cussing him out, and he would look at me with a twinkle in his eye, the happiest smirk, and wink. He loved her feistiness.