Oh Diane!

From the day I was born, Auntie was a constant in my life. She waited at the hospital while my mom was in labor with me. She babysat me when my siblings were born. After my brother died she came to my house and cooked and cleaned for us because mom just couldn’t.

When my husband first met her, he couldn’t understand a thing she said because although she lived in Chicago for more than 40 years, she still spoke with a very strong southern accent.

Until she got sick; she drank too much, smoked too much and cussed too much. When I became a Christian she tried so hard not to cuss around me. In almost every conversation we had she’d slip up and say “oh Damn! Sorry Stephanie!” I’d just roll my eyes and smile.

My older son’s favorite memory of her is when she was still well enough to drive and we’d be in the car with her. She was an awful driver, very nervous, she drove fast and hard. When it’d became too stressful for her, she’d say, “oh Diane!” and talk to herself. To him, at age 7, it was cute. Every time we talk about her he says, “oh Diane!” Taking me back to the car rides and so many memories of Diane C. Clark.

In July 2008, I had the honor of delivering her eulogy. As I prepared to speak about her life, I went through her photos and discovered that many of the wild stories she told me as a kid were true. Like how she ran away and joined the circus, I saw photos for the first time of her in her circus costume. Or the stories of her life on the wild side, when I saw photos of her in mink coats, dressed to the nines. Everything I questioned about her stories faded when they came to life through her photos.

When something exciting happens in my life, I ache to call her. When my bonus child was born, I cried because I knew  he would never have the “oh diane!” experience. 

When we bought our house, I felt so lost that she wasn’t there to be excited with me, to tell me how proud she was of me, to see the look on her face when she saw all that I worked for come to reality. Just like she did when I was the first to graduate from high school, the first to go and graduate from college….she always told me how proud she was of me…and how much she loved me. She was one of my biggest cheerleaders!

In a lot of ways she drove me crazy. She was never afraid to offer her opinion whether you asked for it or not. She told me when I was wrong, called me out on my bullshit, it was never with grace just brutal honesty.

It wasn’t always easy to deal with her because she was so good at telling me how to run my life. She loved me unconditionally and she demanded that love in return. And believed it was her right to tell me what to do because she loved me so much.

When my mom get on my nerves, I realize how much I need to talk to her.

Her laugh was contagious, she was contagious. She always made me feel like I was the most important person in her life.

Auntie and Papito
Auntie and Papito, July 2008.

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