Once each week, my wife heads off to the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle for rehearsals and whatever social challenges the evening my bring.
Meanwhile, back at the Hunter homestead, this is my night to get projects done. Or, at least, take a step towards getting them done. That’s plan A. When it doesn’t work out, I go to plan B. But on the top of my list is continuing efforts on one of my many, many projects: writing a new book, promoting one of the scripts I’ve already written, creating some Ima Norwegian or “Dustin” cartoon gags, or mixing down a commercial that will be playing in movie theaters in a week or two.
I tend to say “Yes” to side projects more than “No” because I love what I do. After 56 years on this rock, I’m still refining the art of wanting to do what I like to do while at the same time having it pay for the habit.
However, tonight it all came to stand-still.
This past week, my dad fell and broke his leg. At age 88, that’s a scary thing–especially when they’re going to put him under to perform surgery and insert a steel rod to correct it. In rhat matter, so far, so good. He’s facing the challenges any 88-year-old would face in the aftermath of such an event. All I can do is pray that he learns from the experience, heals and sticks around for as long as possible. I’m greedy that way.
However, at the same time, we found out my aunt is facing another round of lung cancer, my dad’s sister Mary had fallen and has been deteriorating for the past three months, and my father-in-law had melanoma detected on his ear and was facing surgery.
That can put your worry bones to a real test.
But tonight, as I was trying to move along, do a project or two and continue to advance in my project list, the phone rang It was the news I expected but had hoped not to hear for a while: my aunt mary had died.
To her credit, she made it 91 years. I can’t even imagine surviving that long.
Her passing made me reflect on the Aunt Mary I knew. I’m pretty sure the last time I saw her was in the 1970s. She lived back east, for years in the West Viriginia area my dad and her had called home. Probably the most interesting thing about my aunt was that she was married to a guy named Larry Morgan. Larry seemed to be a happy guy. What I remember most about him was his laugh. He was one of those corporate execs and was on the board of a steel company. When he heard that I was majoring in broadcasting, he told me to let him know when I graduated from college and he would try and help me find a job with one of the radio stations his company owned. How cool was that? Having a job ready for me when I graduated! In radio! Sure, all those stations were back east in places like Pittsburgh, but it would be an inside to a cool job in the industry where I was heading.
That was in the fall. Before I graduated the following June, Larry died of a heart attack. Quick, sudden, unexpected and the end of any job opportunity that would have sent me back east. You can’t help but look back at those key events in your life that, at the time, didn’t seem overly significant. But had he survived another year, God knows where I would be living today and what my life would have become.
My sympathy goes out to Mary and Larry’s kids, my cousins Pat and Marilyn and their families. It’s been at least 40 years since I’ve seen either of them as well. One of those memories I have of Marilyn is that she came all the way out here to swim in the Pacific Ocean, only to dive head first into a jellyfish, which stung her neck. Welcome to California, huh?
My Aunt Mary along with my dad, his fokls and their other brothers and sisters all came over here from Wishan, Scotland, back in the 1920s. My dad now is now the last remaining sibling of the Hunter clan that came to this country to start a new life all those years ago.
So, tonight, the projects went on hold for a week. Next Tuesday, I’ll get back to creating or doing or mixing down.
As for this evening, reflecting on the life of my Aunt Mary, my dad’s older sister, seemed like a more appropriate thing to do. Her smile, her voice, her mannerisms, just as I remember them 40 years ago…as if they were yesterday.
Sometimes, it’s good to go with Plan B.