Aunt Mary

I’m going to take a short break from writing about my dad, but it’s not going to be a happy short break.

First, please read this: Obituary for Mary Ilardi

Aunt Mary and Zoe

Mary Ilardi was my great aunt, my mom’s dad’s sister. She never married or had children but she had tons of nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews—even a great great niece who goes by the name of Zoe—thus she was known to all as Aunt Mary. She was an old-fashioned, 100% Italian lady who listened to Perry Como while making stuffed shells and cheesecake. She went to Atlantic City almost every week, she had a busier social calendar than most people half her age, and she watched Jersey Shore. Her house was always spotless and covered with pictures of her family and friends, of which she had many.

Aunt Mary had fairly typical old-person health issues—hips, eyes, heart—but she was unbelievably strong and came back from every single major and minor problem. My mom and I often referred to her as the Energizer Bunny. Unfortunately Aunt Mary became more ill than she’d ever been at the exact same time as my dad. We thought she would come through it once again, and she did start to recover remarkably well, but when her mind started to slip a little we knew we were losing her.

It’s okay that Aunt Mary is gone because I know she wanted to go. She outlived so many of her friends and relatives, and the last thing she ever wanted was to not be able to take care of herself. It was torture for her to be constantly shuffled between a hospital and a nursing home with all these tubes sticking into her. I think she finally just had enough. Being inside her house this weekend was bizarre and sad and made my heart ache, but I could feel that she was really gone. And it was okay.

So, goodbye Aunt Mary. I’m sorry the last few months were so difficult for you. I wish I had seen you one more time. And I’m sorry I cannot even properly grieve for you right now because I’m still so torn up about Dad, but please know that I will always, always miss you. I already miss you, who am I going to bake all those cookies with now? Say hello to everyone for me—Aunt Phil, Aunt Jesse, Grandma Edith, Grandma Eleanor, Grandpa Frank, Uncle Jimmy, Curly, Alfie. Tell Grandpa Nappy that I wish I’d known him because it sounds like we would have gotten along famously, and please tell everyone how wonderful Zoe is. Take it easy on Dad, he doesn’t want to be up there with all of you because he’d rather be here with me and Mom. Tell him I miss him more with every passing second and I just don’t know what to do without him. I hope with all my heart that you are happy, that you feel your life is complete, and that you are truly at peace. I love you.

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