Finding the right words to capture Aunt Mil

What would I like to write - ahh, there's the rub. Of course, ideas flood my mind.

I'd like to do the books or book about the two women mountain climbers, I think, for young adults.

I'd like to rework the peanut butter article and a couple of others. I'd like to get the diary into novel or docudrama form. I'd like to get "Halligan's Halo" into a TV format. And on and on.

Someone once said everyone has great ideas; it's bringing them to fruition that counts.

I beat myself for my lack of drive to pursue these many ideas. I know there is a market for them, but do them I do not.

Why, I ask myself. And I think I've come up with the answer.

I love to write, to put words down on paper, to find a word that says exactly what I want to say, to capture the rhythm of dialogue, to express the ordinary from a different perspective, like Aunt Mil's ashes.

Fulfilling her last wish

Let me tell you about my Aunt Mil's ashes. She died four years ago. She was my godmother, a lady I loved dearly and cared for, for many years.

Her death was a blessing, so how could we really mourn. Miss her, yes; but mourn her escape, no.

She asked to be cremated and her ashes scattered in the woods. We - the children and I - planned to do that the following spring, when the snow had melted at Lake Tahoe.

But have you ever tried to get a family of five children, attendant spouses and assorted grandchildren together? I guess it can be done, and possibly this spring it will be. Meanwhile, Aunt Mil stays with me.

Living with Aunt Mil

We chat now and then, as Hilary Clinton did with Eleanor Roosevelt.

My aunt helps me to decide my wardrobe of the day when I simply can't make up my mind. She was a sophisticated lady, always up on the latest fashions.

As I reach for a comfortable pair of jeans, I hear her voice: "You're not really going out wearing that, are you?" I immediately change my mind and slip into my wool slacks.

I enjoy her company. She was very well-read and encouraged me to read from the time I was little. We'd walk to the library, find our books and then sit at one of the tables together for an hour or so and just read.

Today, when I read something that really captivates me, I casually mention it to her when I walk past her resting place. Some of my friends aren't comfortable with the idea; but for me, it has been most consoling.

That tricky aunt

The last time I moved, from the second floor to the first, I lost Aunt Mil. Amid all the boxes and books and bags moved from hither to thither, I lost Aunt Mil. I knew she had to be here, but "where" was a mystery.

The day I moved in, I bought a hot bagel and coffee at Tully's as a pick-me-up, but I put it aside when I got home to do one more thing - and I lost the bagel.

Shortly thereafter, I found my coffeemaker. I knew another cup of coffee was the solution to all my problems, but I couldn't find the coffee.

As the clock struck 6, I started to turn on Jim Lehrer, and I couldn't find my television set - a small one, easily buried beneath books or bedding.

As I prowled the apartment searching for my lost possessions, it dawned on me that Aunt Mil must have whisked away my bagel, my coffee and my television and was enjoying a nourishing and tasty snack and watching television, resting in peace somewhere in the chaos of the boxes.

Maybe I'll be able to round up everyone this spring and scatter Aunt Mil's ashes in the forest. But then again, as I gaze out on a bleak, rainy day, I suspect that she'd much prefer warm and cozy on my shelf.

Roberta Cole's senior column appears regularly in the Capitol Hill Times. She can be reached at

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