My Aunt Mary Pat died in November. After an awful battle with Alzheimer’s. This was my first experience with this unforgiving disease. I still don’t understand the cruelness of it all.
My entire life was spent devoted to staying off of my Aunt Mary Pat’s radar. Which was a nearly impossible feat. She was good. She was real good. She had more information than Britannica. More scoops than 31 Flavors.
She was like the John Walsh of the neighborhood. But better. She would have found Adam.
She knew the whereabouts of every child. Everywhere. Always. Screw America’s most wanted. I was way more afraid of Aunt Mary Pat’s Most wanted.
She didn’t need technology. She was old school. And she was amazing at it.
All she needed was her own five senses. And they were sharp. I was always so confused and thought it was weird that my Uncle Tom was the actual detective in this relationship.
One summer a few older kids in the neighborhood got mopeds. My Aunt Mary Pat didn’t like that. Not one freaking bit.
She made it her mission to make sure not one single O’Connor child rode on one single moped. And there were many O’Connor childs. But Mary Pat O’Connor has never met one she couldn’t bring to their knees.
She made us all promise that we’d snitch on each other. And we had no problem with that. If we saw anyone on a moped we were to report to her immediately. And she would reward us generously with a finski.
We were all on a mission. Cash money? This was going to be so incredibly easy.
We all knew that Devin probably had a moped, and a girl, outside waiting for him. All we had to do was wait til he hopped on one and go tell her. It was only a matter of time.
But then Devin did the unthinkable. He ratted on himself. He said he’s already been on one and wants his five bucks. It was amazing. And that’s why Devin was her fave. My son, my son.
My Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary Pat were around a lot longer than my parents were. But it still wasn’t nearly enough time. I am so lucky to have had them though. They were there for me when my parents couldn’t be.
When I graduated college. They were there. When I got married. They were there. When I had each and every one of my kids. They were there.
Every Christmas my Aunt Mary Pat gave me money to help me out. Like I can only assume parents would do. Just knowing that someone still cared about me in that way was a feeling I can never duplicate.
I have so many happy memories of Aunt Mary Pat. I can still remember, clear as day, her fortieth birthday. Her family made a sign for her that they hung across the busy street in front of their house. It read. “Lordy, Lordy, Mary’s Forty. Honk Your Horns And Celebrate.” And it was hilarious.
I became a school counselor just like my Aunt Mary Pat. When I was in school I had to interview an actual counselor, so naturally I chose her. I can still remember that look on her face when I asked her if she ever had an inappropriate relationship with a student.
It was a cross between I’m going to reach across the table and kill you with my own bare hands WITH I actually think you’re kind of funny. It was a look I would see often over the years.
Her other look was normally reserved just for her own children. This was when her glasses slipped too low on the bridge of her nose and then she was left just staring at you over the rims. Her naked eyes burning a hole deep in your soul.
Her arms crossed over the front of her body. Head tilted downward ever so slightly. That look was never directed at me personally, like I said. It was reserved special, just for her kids. But I saw it A LOT. Ahem.
The night my cousin Devin got engaged I got so drunk that I couldn’t even stand on my own two feet. (Really out of character for me.) Aunt Mary Pat held me up. No judgement. Just held me up like I was Bernie, so that I didn’t have to miss any of the fun.
She was good like that. It must have been our shared love of all things zinfandel. Especially white. We both loved drinking wine out of a cardboard box. On the rocks. Preferably.
One time Beau and I had an all-nighter with Uncle Tom and Aunt Mary Pat. It was right before we got married. For the second time.
We were up at their cottage. A place we were always welcome. We were gambling all weekend and we didn’t win a damn thing. And they were pissed.
An adorable young couple like us should have won all the money. Who could argue with that logic? But they just had a way of always letting you know they were rooting for you.
They really wanted us to have the best of everything. They were so excited that we were planning on starting a family. They shared so many stories about what their newlywed days were like and what it was like to start a family. Yet we still decided to go ahead and do it anyway.
That is a night that made my heart full. They both got sick soon after our lost night in Long Beach. But Beau and I will always have those memories.
Hands down the best thing about my Aunt Mary Pat was honestly the four children she left behind. All four amazing in their own right. All four still closer to me than the average cousin. All four have done more for me than I will ever be able to do for them.
These four people were here for us through it all. They were here to help my parents when they were sick. They were here for my brothers and I in every way possible each and every day since.
The way they cared for both of their own parents at the end was truly something that was an honor to see. The love and dignity they gave their parents for the last ten years is something I will never forget. It made us all better people.
We don’t have much time here on this Earth. Not nearly enough. Yet it seems so many people forget that fact.
So take a second to remember what’s really important in life. My Aunt Mary Pat always did. Or as my Uncle Tom would say, enough with the bullshit.
Until we meet again MP. Love, Po