It’s hard to believe it’s been a year since my Aunt Laurie’s death. Since then, we have taken to not answering our home phone as the only people who tend to call it are telemarketers. For months after she passed, the ringing of the phone reminded us of our loss. This may sound odd, but not to those who knew Laurie. She called my house multiple times a day. I ended up choosing to set a boundary in which I’d talk to her once twice a day. She had a habit of always calling right back after hanging up with me and I’d always answer that second time. I found that kept her from calling back multiple times.
Laurie struggled with mental illness throughout her life, and as is always the case, this affected everyone in her life differently. I was blessed to be able to have many years of a close relationship with her. When I was first married, I would help her grocery shop every few weeks since she didn’t have a car. When I’d pick her up, my car tended to be messy, with garbage in it and each time, she would help me clean it out. When my husband and I had to move, she came and helped me pack boxes. When my first daughter was born, she’d go shopping at Babies-R-Us with us and was so excited to bring her to Chuck-E-Cheese for the first time, although my head was spinning by the time we left. I would try to visit about once a month – we’d go to Friendly’s or shopping, especially around Christmas time. In our phone calls, if I happened to mention I didn’t have tape, she’d have a package of tape for me the next time we got together. She clipped coupons and sent them to me (and to my cousins). When we were cleaning out her house, I saw notes on her calendar of who liked what restaurants and products so she could give out coupons to family and friends. She was thoughtful like that. During the times that we had disagreements, I learned a lot about myself and setting boundaries. If I missed a day of talking to her, if I hadn’t been able to see her in a while, or if her mood was down, she would ask if I was mad at her and when I said no, she’d say “I know it’s me – not you.” Sometimes when my kids didn’t want to get on the phone to say hello, she would say “but talking to them makes me happy” to which I learned to respond “only you can make you happy.” This helped me to become more self-aware of times that I was depending on others to make me happy.
Laurie would call my husband to tell him the Yankees won and always said “sorry to bother you” to which he always responded “it’s no bother Laurie.” My aunt Dianne says that Laurie would always keep her apprised of family news. Since she so compulsively kept in touch with everyone, she would always update her of the happenings of all of us. And my mom says Laurie had the best memory about the events and people of her childhood. Her neighbors shared stories of Laurie picking up their newspapers and bringing them to them. It brings me comfort to remember the impact Laurie had on my life as well as on the lives of so many others. She has been greatly missed!