My aunt Ethel, my mom's sister, passed away last Thursday after a lengthy illness. She's been sick for so long. I know in my heart that it's a blessing that she won't have to suffer any more, but it doesn't make me any less saddened by her passing. I remember when I was little girl she would let me brush her hair. I loved it because it felt just like one of my baby dolls. I used to love being around her all the time until I was about 10. She went crazy around that time. She would talk to herself and scream at the voices she was hearing in her head. I was 10 and I didn't know she was sick. None of us knew that she wasn't just mentally ill. No one found out until years later that she had lupus, and that was what was causing the mental illness. Once she got on medicine she was much better, but never ever the same as she was when I was little girl. She and her son moved in with my grandparents around the time she lost it, and she stayed there until earlier this year. Her siblings, my mom and uncle, took care of her finances and things. When I started to drive it was my responsibility to do her grocery shopping or take her shopping when she could still walk around the store on her own. So about once a month I would go to her and get her grocery list and some cash, and spend an afternoon shopping for her. She liked for me to do the shopping because I would get the brands she wanted instead of just getting the cheapest brand I could find like my mom would do. High school kids are not the best bargain hunters when it comes to groceries.
Even when I stopped shopping for her I would still visit on holidays and sometimes when I was at my parents' house. She always asked my mom about me. She always wanted to know how I was doing like I was her own child. But over the years the lupus took it's toll on her body. She had to use a walker for the last few years, and some days she couldn't even stand. But despite it all she managed to show up at my wedding. She really wanted to see me get married.
Things just got worse and worse after that. This year she got to the point where she couldn't do anything for herself, not walk or even sit up. My mom and uncle had to make the hard decision to put their younger sister in a nursing home earlier this year. In the past few months, she had a stroke and several other problems that left her permanently disabled. I'm not even sure if she would have known who I was near the end, but I regret not going to see her. I should have gone anyway, but now it's too late. I know she knows how much I loved her, and I'm glad that she's out of pain now.