Did you ever see the movie “Mame”? It is one of my all time favorite movies. Set back in the 50’s it is about a young boy who loses his parents and goes to live with his Auntie Mame. Auntie Mame had never been married or had her own kids. She has lived an unorthodox (at least unorthodox for the the 50’s) life of luxury and comfort. Auntie Mame goes on to raise her nephew in this same unorthodox environment. She does it with love, humor and a tremendous sense of fun. Mame is full of energy and joy. She seems like someone I would love to be around. I love Auntie Mame in the movie.
We have our very own “Auntie Mame.” She did not start out as Auntie Mame to me, she started out as Elzia or Mrs. Phillips. She is Stan’s dad’s sister and she is one of my favorite people. I met Elzia when Stan and I were engaged. We took a road trip up and down the East Coast so Stan could introduce me to his family and friends before our big day. Elzia’s house was our first stop. She made quite and impression on me. Elzia was warm and welcoming, making me feel a part of her world from the minute I walked into her house. She included me in dinner preparations and as she cooked, and I helped, Elzia told family stories and kept the conversation flowing delightfully. When it came time to go to bed, Elzia was strict in her philosophy regarding sleeping arrangements. Stan would sleep in the boat house, far away from the guest bedroom where I was staying. There would be no chance of any shinanagins while we stayed at their house. Her rules did not bother me in the least, in fact I respected her for setting standards high for us.
Elzia became Auntie Mame when we had Zach. Stan and I were the first to have any children between Stan’s brothers and his cousins. I made the obligatory rounds of what each grandparent or great aunt would like to be called and Elzia said she would love to be called “Auntie Mame.” It suits her. She is full of life, energy and radiates such happiness. She is a joy to be around. My kids all love to visit Auntie Mame.
Auntie Mame suffered a massive stroke the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We had just spent the holiday with her. She rough housed with her grandson’s and hung out with our boys, talking hockey and lacrosse with them like she was one of them. She and Claire got to have some good ol’ Pokrywka girl time when Claire stayed for a sleepover with her beloved Auntie Mame. We left the weekend feeling blessed and happy to have such a wonderful family to share our holidays with. The Monday after Thanksgiving at 7 in the morning my phone rang. It was the phone call letting us know our Auntie Mame had a stroke. It was bad. Stan and I got the kids off to school and raced to Alexandria to be there for Auntie Mame, her son Frank and his girlfriend, Sima. I was prepared for the worst but hoping for the best. Auntie Mame is a fighter. She still has too much living to do to let a stroke take her away from us.
Auntie Mame fought hard from the minute she came out of surgery to relieve the pressure in her brain and clean up the damage. She has made a remarkable recovery. When she first had her stroke not many believed she would regain much use of her left side, be able to walk or to live independently. This experience was a crash course in the fragility of life. Life can change in the blink of an eye. It has been a long four months for Auntie Mame but I am happy to say she has regained nearly all the use of her left side, has relearned to walk and is getting ready to leave the assited living facility where she has been recuperating since December. Auntie Mame has worked so hard to regain what we all take for granted. I couldn’t be more proud of her or happier for her recovery. Today is her birthday. Yesterday Stan took the kids to celebrate with Auntie Mame, cake and all. Happy Birthday, to our very own Auntie Mame! This is for the love and joy you give to all of us…