Ba, bi-ba…di-da. Bum, bi-bum…di-dum.
I remember her singing the made-up melody, rubbing my back to help me sleep.
I think only God knows why Aunt Pauline is the way she is. Her body grew up, but the rest of her never did. The mind of a child…the heart of a little girl.
She went to school. Rode a bus to work. Lived on her own as much as she could. But her life, I think, has been free of so many of worries the rest of us have. Like a girl playing house. Giggling, humming, singing her made-up melodies.
Like any little girl, she got herself into some trouble, too. Lying here and there, hiding food in her room, maybe even a few fights. Also like any little girl, she had dreams. She watched us all get married, “Mmmmaybe one day, one day I’ll get married, too.”
She loved us well. Love with five dollars in a birthday card. Love by doing the dishes as cousins ran off to play. Love by watching us swim from behind the cabin screen door, then hanging our wet forgotten beach towels on the line. Playing Royal Rummy late into the night, carefully counting every penny she won.
To this day, I hear her chiming “Telephone!” a sing-song reminder whenever a phone goes beyond the third ring. And “don’t slam the door!” one second after a screen door smack. I can’t imagine that those things bothered her. She just was saying what she thought a grown up should say. A little girl playing house. Singing and humming through her chores. Singing me to sleep.
Her life has been a gift. Her joy and laughter, giggles and dreams have been a gift to us. Towels on the line and bedtime stories and games of Go Fish have been gift to us. So many in our family who have taken care of her, made sure she was safe, made sure she was provided for, have given her gifts as well. Dignity. Independence. A lifetime of memories and a song in her heart.
Soon she’ll be singing for Jesus.
Bum…bi-bum…di-dum. La-la-la hmmm hmmm.