Sunday, April 19, 2015

Fare Thee Well, Princess Carol

     Carol played a very large role in my childhood memories. Grandma and Grandpa Beckett looked after me while my mom worked, and, after grandpa passed, Carol lived with us until grandma passed, so I spent just about every day with her until I was 9. I remember swinging on swings with her, playing in grandma and grandpa’s backyard after the rain… Trying to convince her to eat my mud pies decorated with snails…

     From a very young age I knew she was different. I admit I spent many hours peeking through her bedroom door just watching her.  She would sing and dance, draw, and play with her wigs… her creepy, freaky wigs, combing their hair, putting them in rollers, then taking out the rollers and styling their hair, repeating the process a couple of days later. She fascinated me, and as I reflect, I realize that although she was different she embodied everything that we are.  
     What she lacked in cognition she made up for in spunk. She was quirky, creative, loving, she loved to laugh, and, like all Beckett women, she was a stubborn old bitty who had to have things her way.

     She loved cats so much I sometimes worried she’d hug them to death. One year, our three cats all had kittens at the same time. We had 18 kittens and I’m sure Carol thought she was in heaven.

     She loved music. I remember sitting in her room and playing her record player, listening to her 45 of Disco Duck over and over and over again… and she was quite proud of her velvet Elvis picture.

     She loved to create. She would make squiggle drawings where she would draw a big circle and fill it with figure eights and tons of other lines, then color each segment a different color. I remember watching her tearing pages from a book, then circling groups of letters all throughout the page, connecting different words together with her circles, blacking out some letters here and there. When I asked her what she was doing, she told me she was “making words”. I argued with her, of course, telling her that they were already words, and I tried to convince her to let me teach her how to read. But she liked her way better.

     She loved anything sparkly or pink. She loved painting her nails. She loved sparkly jewelry. She loved her tiara. She beamed when she wore it. It made her feel beautiful, just like we all want to be.

     It’s hard losing her, which may seem weird to some people. Carol and I were not close as relatives go, but Carol always held a large place in my heart. She was the relative that you loved when you were a kid because she was kind of a kid, too. But then you grew up. And she didn’t, really, and you eventually outgrew her. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to. She reminded me of the happiest parts of my childhood. Losing her is like losing the last little thread that connected me to that part of my life, to my grandparents, to a time when I felt the most loved. It is hard to let go of that.

     I am not religious, and I honestly don’t believe in misty heavens and pearly gates. I would like to believe in something magical beyond this life. That this is not just an end. That somehow she finds peace, and the ability to be as silly and as sparkly and as beautiful as she can be. So I will imagine her now in a pink feather boa and a tiara, just the way she should be. 

     You rock on with your spunk and pink feathers, Auntie Carol. Say hello to Grandma and Grandpa for me.