My dear aunt Agnes MacRae recently passed away. She graced our lives with her presence for 96 years. The longevity gene is alive and well in my family. I was asked to share some memories of my aunt during her memorial service. I didn’t have to search very far. Memories of my aunt are always close at hand and close to my heart heart.
My very first memory of Aunt Agnes sums up the person she was in totality. I was in the second grade when my mother was rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night with a ruptured ovarian cyst, or “women’s trouble” as it was referred to in the “old days”. Aunt Agnes received a call from my parents asking if she could come to our house and take care of the Mullowney boys during my mother’s emergency surgery. Aggie was there in the blink of an eye. She wanted to be there when my younger brother and I woke up in the morning. It was a few days before Christmas. Our house was decorated, some presents had already found their way under the tree. And there was Aunt Agnes greeting my little brother and me as we came downstairs, bleary eyed and looking for breakfast. I wondered why my mother wasn’t there that morning.
“Your mother had to go to the hospital but she’s going to be alright,” Aunt Agnes said, reassuringly giving us warm hugs. She was strong and comforting, her heart overflowing with love which seemed to be the constant theme of her life. Aunt Agnes selflessly put her own life on hold for a few days to come and take care of her sister’s children.
Over the years, my aunt opened her home to my family on many occasions. During my childhood, her legendary Fourth of July cookouts on Mount Washington Street in Everett still live on as some of my fondest summer memories. Even after I grew into adulthood, my aunt would welcome my wife and I to spend overnight weekend visits at her home in Falmouth so we could visit Cape Cod and have a place to stay. Without fail, during our stay a hot cup of tea topped off our nightly conversations with my aunt. Her generosity will never be forgotten.
I think of Aunt Agnes often, especially when watching re-runs of I Love Lucy. Agnes was the Ethel Mertz to my mother’s Lucille Ball. In the midst of my mom’s crazed antics, Agnes was the calm soul of reason no matter what circus was unfolding around her. Somehow my aunt always managed to hold her composure, even when my little brother was playing “oil man” in her backyard. My brother placed the garden hose in the dryer vent, turned on the water full force, and flooded my aunt’s basement. “Oh well, what can you do?” was my aunt’s reaction.
I miss my aunt, but I will treasure my memories of her. She was my godmother who always knew the right thing to do and say to make everyone she met feel comfortable and at peace. I can still feel her hand touching my cheek as she uttered her famous, “God Luv Ya.”
God loves you too, Aunt Agnes. My you find the peace and comfort you gave to everyone who was lucky enough to know you.