Aunt Pam

Yesterday as I was driving home from that funeral (it was a long drive) the date hit me. March 10.

It was a sunny Tuesday morning. My sister and I were getting ready for school and I was really excited to be going on a field trip that day. We were going to a science museum in Cincinnati and when you are in 6th grade that's a big day. Right before we left on the bus there was a phone call. Mom was worried, we could tell. Aunt Pam had been rushed to the hospital. That was all I knew when I went to school.

Aunt Pam is my moms sister. She was about 5'4", platinum blonde short hair, and a frame the wind could blow over. She had a scratchy voice and a fiesty personality. Growing up Aunt Pam lived in a very small studio apartment in town. She was at our house every Saturday morning so she could do her laundry. She wasn't married and had no children of her own so my sister and I were like her kids. Every Saturday she came over and every Saturday she had something for us. She brought candy bars, coloring books and crayons, matchbox cars, Barbie clothes, books, you name it she brought it over. She loved us. My sister and I would get into trouble and she'd get us out of it. At Christmas she would always buy the huge gift that my dad would have to put together. I think my dad is still cussing her for Barbies Dream House. She loved watching my sister and I grow up and couldn't wait to see us become teenagers and adults.

Aunt Pam married a little later but that didn't stop her from spoiling us. She had a few demons that I didn't learn about until I was older but somehow we didn't know about them. She loved us and thats all we needed to know.

I got off the bus that day, March 10, and my dads truck was in the driveway. My thoughts were whirrling as I walked up the driveway. Dad was never home at this time. Where was mom? Oh, God Aunt Pam was at the hospital this morning. I walked in the door and immediately knew something was wrong. I think my sister was already home so my dad sat us down to talk. He told us that an ambulance had taken her to the hospital. She wasn't feeling well and couldn't breathe. They tried their best but she had passed away. "Passed Away", that's a nice way of saying died and I knew it. I cried and asked lots of questions. Why? Why her? What happened? I don't remember exactly how my dad answered those questions I just remember the absolute heartbreak I was feeling. I remember being mad at her. She wanted to see me grow up she said so, why would she go before I grew up? She talked about what we'd be like in high school and eventually get married and have children. She promised and she wasn't going to miss it. For an eleven year old those are life crushing realizations.

Over the next few days there was a lot of family and funeral, there were pink roses, and laughs and tears. I remember writing her a letter that I sent with her. That letter had several drafts because it's difficult to tell someone how you feel.

Her husband came over a few weeks later and brought me her leather jacket. She LOVED that jacket. It smelled like her and for years; I could still find her scent deep inside.

Today was the 20th anniversary of her death. I still think of her often and wonder what she'd think of me if she were here. I think she would be proud of who I've become and would have been there with me through the whole journey.

I miss you Aunt Pam....


  1. Nicole,
    This is a beautiful tribute to your aunt. I'm sure she would love it. I'm sure she is glad to know that 20 years later you still think of her. It must have been devastating to hear the news. I thought the repetition of the phrase "every Saturday" really helped us to know how you counted on that time with your aunt. Your description of the leather jacket was powerful. I was struck by this, " It smelled like her and for years; I could still find her scent deep inside. " Thanks for sharing this.


  2. This slice was such a lovely tribute to your Aunt Pam. I'm sure she'd be so touched by it. I know that I was very touched. I love the way you tell the story of what happened that day, first telling us how close you were to your aunt and then going back to explain how you felt when you walked in the door that day after school. I also loved your honesty. There are so many emotions when a loved one dies -anger, regret, sadness . . . Thanks for a beautiful slice.

  3. This is a loving tribute to someone who was obviously very special for the role she played in your life. You cover the dark parts of this story with grace. I have an inkling that all the best parts of Aunt Pam live on through you and your sister!

  4. What beautiful writing, Nicole! It sounds like your Aunt Pam was a very important part of your life, even though you were so young when you lost her. It made me smile to hear how she spoiled you. I'll think of your story as I continue to spoil my niece! :)

  5. Thanks for sharing a bit of Aunt Pam with all of us - it will remind us to keep spoiling everyone around us with time spent together. You have fond memories of your Aunt Pam, and you shared them so eloquently.

  6. Nicole, I am so touched by your writing today. I wrote about my Aunt Cathi who died last year on March 12th. It sounds like both of these women had a strong influence on who we became as adults. I love the repetition of "every Saturday" and the image of her getting you out of trouble brought a smile. Isn't that what aunts are for? Thanks for sharing!


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