Dear Aunt Shirley:
Aunt Shirley on the far left
I wanted to come see you today, because you are one of my favorites, not just a favorite Aunt, one of my favorite people. We are traveling today, so instead of coming to see you, knowing how I like to talk, it might tax your energy level, so in the spirit of Storycorps, I’ll just have a little talk with you right here and you can enjoy our “talk” later.
Me: I’m sorry you are not feeling well. I hope you know how loved you are, by all of your family, but speaking for the Terrel Taylor children, we’ve always felt a special closeness to you, because you laugh with us, or perhaps, you were laughing at us. I’m not sure. Anyway, we love you and pray for you that you might find healing and comfort.
Aunt Shirley: Well, thanks, Ray and I love you also.
Me: That means a lot. Ray is hard to love you know. But you, you are easy to love. You are an Aunt who always “took me in” when you didn’t have to and always made me feel comfortable and at home. Really, Ray isn’t hard to love, it’s just I remember all those basketball games he blocked me out with one of the strongest forearms I’ve ever seen.
Aunt Shirley: What do you remember about coming over to our house?
Me: Some bad things, and a confession. One time me and John Burch who lived next door, hopped over your fence and took a quick dip in your pool. I remember you weren’t home, and I don’t really know why we did it, it was hot and it looked really inviting. But it was for five minutes and we hopped back over the fence.
Aunt Shirley: Always had mischievous nature. Maybe it’s best we separated you and Barry from bus boy duties at the Steak House. You are forgiven.
Me: Thanks, I feel better.
Aunt Shirley: You are welcome.
Me: And I remember flipping a Honda mini-bike and breaking out the front headlight with Barry riding double on the back, and taking Tom McKinney’s Honda 350 out into the pasture on your home south of Bartlesville and turning it around too tight and laying it down. That was embarrassing.
Aunt Shirley: Do you remember staying at our home in the sixth grade?
Me: Yes, we had a game against Commerce, OK in the Little League State Finals. The rest of my family headed to Washington state on a vacation, but I just couldn’t leave without playing in the state tournament. I really wanted to make it to Williamsport, PA for the World Series.
Ray worked late at the Steak House and came in later one night and you had a big pot of spaghetti and I got to eat a late night spaghetti dinner. It was like I was in college in the sixth grade away from my family staying up late like an adult and eating late night food. It was really good. You were always unique and talented in your cooking.
Aunt Shirley: My Mom, your Grandma Grace, could sweep pinto beans from the cracks of a hardwood floor and make it into a meal, so I had a good teacher.
Me: Yes, you did. I miss her blackberry cobbler and macaroni and cheese. Well, I know you can’t talk long. Thanks for giggling with Terri all these years, she doesn’t have many friends. One other thing I remember. You and Ray came to see me play in an all-star basketball game at the Adams gym here in Bartlesville when I was maybe 11 years old. I have never forgotten that you took the time to come see me play. I never set foot on the court that game. Coach’s decision. I was heartbroken about not playing since everyone came to see me play. But it was good for me, it made me know I was loved anyway and that you cared about me. Thanks for that and for loving me even when there was nothing much to say except, “Things will be different next time.”
Thanks for talking.
I love you, Brent