The Ties That Bind

We arrived in Athens at 3:00 am on Saturday morning – 5:00pm PST Friday night. By this time, we were exhausted and preparing ourselves for a cold taxi ride with a strange man. We’d called from London to let my Auntie Berta know of our delay and made arrangements with Mary, her neighbor, to let us in to the flat. To our great joy, my cousin Aeneas met us at the airport. The last time I saw Aeneas he was 13 years old. He’s all grown up now and quite an interesting young man. He is the oldest child of my cousin Isabella, she being the middle child of my Aunt Charlotte, she being the oldest sister of my Mom.

My Auntie Berta’s house is filled with memories. The photos of the people in my Aunt’s life cover every flat surface. I see myself at every age. She has filled her life with us…loving us all in ways we can’t really appreciate. She’s been the matriarch (the alpha female) in our family for more years than I can remember. Strong, bossy, and always in charge. She hasn’t always made the best decisions, and she’s alienated more than one person along the way, but she’s confident and knows what she wants. And tries to make everyone else do what she wants, too.

Now, in the last part of her life journey, she’s too tired to be strong. Still too darn stubborn for her own good, but the fight has gone out of her. She’s on a plethora of medication which causes her to lose track of time and people. I’ve had to introduce myself several times. She has lung cancer, which has moved so quickly they’ve stopped treating her and now they just manage the pain. The doctor says it’s moved in to her brain. Despite the medication, she has a wicked sense of humor and a willingness to laugh.

And like a MasterCard commercial, the tickets cost a fortune, the flight was a female dog, making my Aunt laugh…priceless. God is good. He knows just what we need when we need it. He adds and subtracts from our lives in wonderful and confusing ways. Just knowing I’m in His hand makes the journey more interesting. And being tied together with my Greek Auntie Berta, by hearts strings, is making me a better woman.


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