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2 Dec

Saying goodbye to yourself

My Aunt Stella died. She was an amazing woman. I will miss her very much. It’s hard, when someone you love so much, someone you thought would always be there for you, the way she always had been, is no longer going to be here, to not be selfish. Me me me. I am sad. I am wrecked. I can’t stop crying. What she meant to me. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing. I guess, if someone helped make you who you are, maybe it should be impossible to speak about them without being self-referential.

Aunt Stella taught me kindness. She was kind to me when others weren’t. She never judged when it would have been easy to condemn. If life became unkind Stella would offer concern. A trait I have tried to copy, sometimes, well sometimes…

Aunt Stella taught me how to polka. Every wedding the two of us would twirl the floor. I loved it. She taught me how to ride a bike. I was so afraid, I still remember it. Afraid of falling afraid of what if I didn’t fall “how do you stop this thing!” Afraid of even trying and being made fun of. She taught me to be brave. …and I rode. I still ride.

When my political views started forming and I found confusion in what others were saying, it was Aunt Stella who made sense to me and made me feel less alone. Having spent her earliest years in displacement camps, her family surviving the Nazis, she taught me that the State never has the right to take the life of its citizenry. When we lost Stella’s mother, brutally, to an addict, instead of asking for the death penalty, she sought to help and treat addicts. Like I said: amazing. I wish to have such conviction.

Aunt Stella was funny. We laughed a lot, occasionally at other’s expenses. Never really mean but calling a top-stich a top-stich! HA! Except in church! We weren’t allowed to laugh, talk or breathe too loudly in church. I did all those things and often got “the stare” or worse from her. Me, being me, I got her back! At a family event, in church, Aunt Stella sat in the pew in front of me: I leaned forward and whispered… I’m not going to say what I whispered because it wasn’t very nice but it sure was funny as…well, funny as heck. Aunt Stella started to admonish me but then started to laugh. She choked/laughed through the entire service. I thought she’d kill me after but it became one of those things, you know, those things you bring up years later and laugh all over again.

This blog is mostly my professional journey, but Aunt Stella belongs here too. She liked my stories. I remember once in college, I was worried because my Mom was coming to see a show I wrote and the dialogue had swear words! It is hard to imagine me being worried about swearing in my work! RIGHT?!?! Stella told me: if it belongs there it belongs there if it doesn’t then it doesn’t. Truer words were not spoken by any teacher, ever.

I put this here to remind myself of her kindness, charity of spirit and her firm belief in me always without question or pause. Her absolute love of me and Christie, wow she loved everything about Christie! Love, Aunt Stella taught me love. Thank you Aunt Stella. I’m pretty happy with the person I turned out to be and I owe some of that to you.

The above picture is of my Dad doing his Elvis in Las Vegas with Mom, Stella and Jerry. I love you Aunt Stella. I will try to continue to be someone you will be proud of. Until then, I think I’ll sew something, go for a bike ride and maybe Christie and I will go to a metal show, which I know you just loved!

David LeBarron
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