Today’s news:

‘Hey, St. Peter ... make way for Aunt Mary!

My daughter called her Tzi Tzi Grandma, I called her Mary and my husband, on occasion, called her the Bulldog, because she never let go of anything.She was my aunt, my mom’s last living sister. She was a survivor.

She died on December 1, at 89 years young, on her own terms, in her own home, just where she had wanted to be. She got the chance to say goodbye. My aunt was never one for sappy sentimentality. She was quick and to the point, painfully so. Where my mother was patient and my Aunt Jo long suffering, my Aunt Mary was take charge, take no prisoners and get over it. She had no time for regrets, although she once said she had a few. She had no time to sit in a rocking chair mooning over things she couldn’t change. She was too busy living.

She always looked forward and always looked for the next bargain. I think I got the shopping gene from her. My mother couldn’t be bothered with stores. My aunt lived for them. She looked at shopping the way a big game hunter goes after prey - first you spot the item, then you scope out the territory and compare. Then and only then when you are completely satisfied do you go in for the kill -- the buy.

I had invited her for Thanksgiving, so of course it meant that she would cook for weeks before and have everything ready to go. She had begun asking what she should make in September. Every week I’d get the call: “Do you know what I should bring?”I didn’t want her to carry too much stuff, so I would tell her when you get here we can shop and shop we did. We hit every dollar/bargain store on Staten Island and New Jersey. She was a shopper extraordinaire and had more energy than I could ever muster. At this year’s Black Friday hunt after five hours of heavy spending, she sat down and said, “You know, I’m a little tired, but after supper, let’s go out again.”

When my cousin Barbara called to let me know that she had passed, she said, “My mom got exactly what she wanted, she got to spend the holidays with people that she loved and that loved her unconditionally. She spent the last days of her life doing what she loved to do, cooking, shopping and being around people.”

I’m glad that she had the time to say goodbye, I’m glad that she spent it with me.

When I told my sister-in-law that she had passed, she said that she would always remember the last thing that my aunt had said to her. “I’m gonna go back to Florida and find myself a rich old geezer...”

Not for nuthin’, but I can hear her already: “St. Peter, where are those dollar stores?”

JDelBuono@cnglocal.com

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