Thursday, December 4, 2008

Aunt Jeanne, Final Sleep December 4, 2008

She Got Me Back into Stand-up

When I got the call from my Dad, the first response I had was "wow", but in my head, I was thinking, "Wow-how are all of the women in Nana B's family going to sit in one room to talk and still get through in one single day."

For the last few months, she had been trying to desensitize us to her illness. She was talking about accepting that she wasn't going to be around, and that wasn't easy to hear. But she made sure she said something every time we talked to her to remind us- we'd have to live without her and she was really going to be okay with the idea. She was really ready for this. She was the one who understood that every day was another day closer for the end for her. And , she wanted to make sure we heard her laughing as much as possible.

The day she talked to me about her illness for the first time, she was excited about getting to buy wigs- like a movie star. She wondered if she'd get too skinny. Like a movie star. She was awe inspiring- and much smarter than any movie star. Even now I can't picture her without her big old smile, saying, 'Yeah, I know it, I know it'.

The last time we talked she was out of breath, and had just a few seconds in her. But she talked about seeing Frannie's grandbaby, and how excited she was that she was going to go to Vegas, and maybe even have a drink. Jeanne was looking forward to seeing everyone. As usual, she hid how much she was hurting, and didn't want to talk about it too much. She made a quick joke about being too skinny and that she was thinking of Burger King. But she couldn't talk very long and that was the last time we chatted.

I have several of her phone messages. She called on my birthday, on Ricky's birthday, and even on Lincoln's birthday. We talked at least once every couple of weeks, but I never felt like we talked enough. On Thanksgiving, by the time we got home from a friend's house- it was too late that day, and I put off calling her because I worried she would be out of breath. I figured- she'll be here in a week, I'll say hello in person. I can almost hear her in my mind saying, "How did that work out?" and laughing about it. The last message I had was her telling me that she decided to go visit people- and she was giggling about it. She was just thrilled that she was going to have what she called, her "Big Bang Party" and was eager to see everyone.

Her family was the reason she stayed around so long. She loved her grand-kids and was sad about being sick around them. She joked with me a lot about Ricky and their lives as kids. I won't repeat a word. But I'll smile a little more around my dad, now. That was her magic. She wanted to laugh, and she was really great at it. That's what her legacy really is- and that's why I think everyone should think of that smiling face and not the illness that took her. That's all I can see now. That's what she gave me- and it was worth a billion dollars, six countries, and a bottle of cola. Maybe a Whopper, Jr., too.

Thanks to the comedians in Comed-o-Therapy, she was able to have a night where she laughed that BIG laugh, wore that movie star hat, and even was surrounded by family. It was a lot of her in that room- and a lot of laughter that she needed. I can't thank the comedians enough. The next show will be in her memory rather than her honor. And we will carry her laughter.

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