The voice I heard when I woke from a dream this morning was my Aunt Tucker’s. Not actually her voice, but definitely her. I could not go back to sleep so instead I begin celebrating Aunt Tucker’s life. On this day when her body will be placed in a grave, her soul is dancing with the moon and her sister stars. She has already sent us small but distinct signs that she is loving us from her new home, from the place where she is light and ageless.
Her family nicknamed her when she was young because she was fun and bigger-than-life, like the popular singer and radio personality of their day, Sophie Tucker. Not big in size, of course, but big in spirit. I wonder if Aunt Tucker’s brothers and sisters knew then that she would be the storyteller who would keep their youth alive.
Aunt Tucker loved to tell stories and as the seventh of nine children in an Irish American family, she had many tales to tell. She was my mother’s older sister and best friend, and mom lovingly told me once that Aunt Tucker had kissed the Blarney Stone. My aunt had never traveled to Ireland, but perhaps in another life she had visited Blarney Castle because surely she could tell a story as well as anyone I have ever known. Nearly everything I know about my mother’s childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, I know from Aunt Tucker’s stories. As a child I would walk across the field to her house and sit at her kitchen table, listening for hours to her tales. Those sessions always ended with a phone call from my mom, asking my aunt to send me home for dinner.
I love Aunt Tucker so much and am more grateful to her than she could possibly have known. She understands that now. Along with my parents and brother, she shaped my life and helped me find my place in our family and in the world. Her one surviving son will honor her wishes today with a simple graveside tribute. She is proud of the man he has become, the one who is ignoring those who want Aunt Tucker “sent off” with more fanfare. He knows that she’s already arrived where she was going, and no celebration today could possibly be big enough to adequately reflect the love and light that she brought to this world and to our family. Her stories now are for the angels to hear.