Aunts & Ants

Aunt Carol hid the brownies. Of course, she had a perfectly good explanation (she had already made ‘Nilla wafer banana pudding and, ya’ll, we didn’t need 2 desserts in one night). But, the next morning, when Aunt Sissy microwaved her muffin, I heard her say, “Todd, how did you NOT notice all the ants in the microwave when you heated up your muffin?” These ants were radioactive. How did they survive being nuked in the microwave two times?!

The poison was brought out, the microwaved ants had gone to a better place (?). But, where were they coming from? I opened the cupboard above the microwave. A few ants scurried about. And then, I saw it. The hidden plate FULL of homemade brownies. Double saran-wrapped. Saved away for the next day’s dessert. COVERED - and I mean swarming- with ants. We hollered and put them outside and frantically sprayed the rest of cupboard. When Aunt Carol came downstairs in her housecoat and curlers we accused her of feeding the ants and hiding the brownies. And, as much fun as it was to tease her, how did ants get IN A MICROWAVE?! If you can believe it, the next morning they were in the DISHWASHER!

I like to believe the ants were sent from God. The ants and my aunts. The ants kept us busy and laughing the week of mom’s funeral. My aunts kept the house running, the dishes washed, the old stories coming. God provided in all sorts of ways that week after mom died. The ants and aunts was just some of His means.

Aunt Lynne was also there. Mom’s baby sister. The one full of tales. The one treated, by my mom, more like a daughter than a sister. I think there are 12 years between mom and Aunt Lynn. I love hearing Aunt Lynn tell stories. She is not worried about being proper (as my mom was) and she is full of love (as my mom was).  It felt so good to come down the hall and see her there in mom’s house. As mom would have wanted it.

Then there is Uncle Beau. A classic. A legend. Mom’s mysterious brother. A professional boxer who eventually opened his own boxing studio. Strangely, we have an upcoming boxer in the family (go Jill!). But, it felt kinda like have a movie star in your house. What did he want? What would he say? He showed me old pictures of himself with Donald Trump (from the 70’s) and told me stories my mom wouldn’t have wanted him to. I’m glad he was there.

And then Uncle Tom. Aunt Sissy’s husband. A retired preacher and missionary. So calm, happy and wise. The room goes quiet when he speaks. His slow, southern voice carries a sense of authority. His stories are not short. But, they are always important. He is touched by all the love and joy he has felt as we process the death of someone we love.

Cousin Todd and his (extremely FOMO) wife Bonnie came - “Kate, if I hadn’t come Todd would have only told me a quarter of all the things happening this week. I would have been so left out!” Oh, how we love Bonnie! Cousin Peggy Jean (who we still can't call Meghan, despite that being her preferred name for 15 years) and John (who will forever be Johnny in my mind) and their families came from Phoenix. They were happy it was only 98 degrees in El Cajon. I’m hoping for more time with them in the future.


I’m so grateful for all the relatives who came. From Alabama, North Carolina, Arizona, Tennessee and Louisiana.  How strange and sweet is it that death brings us together. Death breeds life. New and renewed relationships. New stories. Beauty from ashes. Laughter from ants (and aunts).

Kate HagenComment