It was that Summer that Aunt Mamie stopped coming to visit us. It wasn’t that we really missed her visits but we were curious as to why she had stopped coming so abruptly. When we hadn’t seen her for several weeks my Mother remarked, “I wonder what’s become of Aunt Mamie?” Summer turned to Fall and still no Aunt Mamie. One Fall day when I was returning home from school, my Mother told me that Aunt Mamie had died. Well we were shocked to say the least as no one in my Father’s family had said anything about Mamie being sick. Mother said that Mamie had a stroke and died. She was never really sick before that. I was not surprised because I considered her very old. And I thought when you got that old you just died. I had been to several funerals by that time and death was a common occurrence.
So preparations were made for our family to go to the wake, which was to be held at my Grandmother’s house. Grandmother always like parties, funerals, wakes and all occasions where the relatives and friends gathered and ate and drank and usually enjoyed themselves no matter the occasion. Sometimes a Wake had to do. It was a small town and everyone knew everyone else and when someone died, people would bring lots of cakes, casseroles, pies, etc. It was usually an event to look forward to with some relish. Even if someone had to die in order for a party to be held. Of course Mrs. Kelly brought her prize winning fried chicken and Mrs. Murphy brought her best chocolate cake.
And as kids, we also loved the wakes. We got to visit and play with all our cousins and friends and eat until we were sick. No one really noticed us, so we really ran rampant. And being an Irish Wake, there was a lot of whiskey and beer consumed mostly by the men. Sometimes the women would take a drink but their usual drink was tea or coffee. Someone had to oversee the goings on and make sure everything went smoothly. The men often overdid the drinking and would break into boisterous singing.
My Father and his brother John considered Aunt Mamie an old maid and a tightwad especially since she did not make the loan to my Father for his truck. Both were sitting on the swing on the front porch when Mother and I arrived at my Grandmother’s house the day of the Wake. They were drinking beer even though it was early in the day. My Mother gave them a cool greeting and in reply they just laughed.
To be continued.