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Rest In Peace, Aunt Melissa.
  Aunt Melissa died.

The Pops called me this morning to tell me that she had passed away earlier in the day. Surrounded by family. Hospice workers.

Death is a slut that seems to have a thing for my family.

Actually, she had been sick for some time. She had cancer in places that cancer shouldn't be-- namely the body area. I would get updates from The Pops and he would relate stories of her trials and tribulations. Sounded like it was a hard struggle for her.

I haven't spoken to Aunt Melissa for 16 years. When I found out about her death, I tried valiantly to remember my last contact with her.

Thanksgiving, 1988. After a long trek from Louisiana to Florida, strapped in tightly in the back seat of the Ford LTD. It was a relief to finally arrive at her house.

She opened the door. Her house smelled weird. Like cleansing solutions and baby powdered potpurri.

"Take your shoes off before you come in. I have white carpet."

Her house was immaculate. Everything was in its perfect place. The inside reminded me of the set of The Golden Girls complete with a large fake ficus that welcomed you to the back patio's door. Dining room chairs with the ability to roll and swivel were upolstered in lavendar, grey, and mauve stripes.

"Don't play on the chairs. They are not a toy."

A large Clarinova piano was in the living room. It had gleaming white keys and symmetrical buttons that lit up.

"Don't touch. This is not for children."

The Thanksgiving meal was delicious. Whipped mashed potato(e)s. Green bean casserole. Cranberry sauce sliced into perfectly shaped circles. Hot rolls.

"That's too much butter for your roll. You shouldn't use so much butter. Don't be so greedy."

Standing outside on the perfectly manicured lawn. Breathing in the hot Florida air. Looking forward to the impending visit to the beach. I was looking up at the sky.

"You have horrible posture. No man will ever love you if you have posture like that."

When we were getting ready to depart, I was giddy with the excitment of returning home. Aunt Melissa slipped into her house shoes that were stationed next to the front door.

She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed me hard into her large (apparently not genetic) chest. Her arms were soft, her hair smelled of styling products. Her embrace was real.

Aunt Melissa died today.

I hope that now she has some peace. Some happiness. I hope that everything is perfect for her now.

She was a very good hugger.

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Copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 L.Leroy