Dear Aunt Gerri,
I have tried to write this so many times in the last few weeks, but every time I sit down, I freeze. There is so much to say, but it’s difficult to find the right words to say it.
So many of my best childhood memories involve you. We all spent so much time together at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. The kids would play in the huge yard, which isn’t so huge now that we’re older, while the grownups talked, cooked, laughed, and did grownup stuff. It was magical to spend time with all the cousins I love while exploring the house our mothers grew up in: laying in front of the gas fireplace, holidays, random Sundays with Noble Romans pizza, ping pong and pool in the basement. There were all of the brunches at Innsbrook with eleven of us trooping in to a big table dressed in our Sunday best. I don’t think you adults knew that I used to basically just eat caviar and lox. I remember our trips to Lake Lawn Lodge in Wisconsin in the summertime: all of us eating dinner together, dancing on the patio afterward, and spending lots of time in the game room. We rode horses, took boat rides, and even had fun in the car caravan on the way up to the resort. I wish I remembered the CB handle I used when we would talk between cars. All of our trips to Disney also stand out in my mind. I loved when Grandpa and Grandma did the Easter egg hunt in their resort room for us one year; I can’t believe they let us ransack their room that way! And of course there was the year we went over Christmas break and explored the Magic Kingdom until the early hours of the morning. . I know that you loved spending time with everyone, all together, no matter where we were. You and I had some adventures of our own, too. We took a road trip to Greenfield Village and learned all about Henry Ford, and we went to Venetian Night in Chicago a couple of times to see the boats and their beautiful lights sparkle on the water.
I took for granted that things would always be that way, and then as everyone got older, people began to make new places their home. We were together for holidays, but I missed the concentrated time we would spend together. When Trevor and I decided to move from Kentucky to Indiana, I was hoping to recapture some of that time together so I could share some of my childhood with my own kids. We had already lost Grandpa and Grandma, but I looked forward to spending time with the rest of you all.
Things changed when we lost Lynn way too early. I can’t imagine that you were ever the same after that. The only positive thing to come out of missing Lynn was realizing that none of us is promised much time in life, and we have to make the most of the time we do have. We started to get together more often, and it was amazing to watch my kids get to know and love you. Other than my parents and Trevor’s parents, you were the first to come to Kentucky to see them after they were born. You flew down and held them, admired them, and smiled your crinkly-eyed smile. Remember how we found the possum in my yard when you came to meet Dallas? You held him and watched toddler Lottie while I ran out and tried to move it out of the yard. I’ll never forget looking at the window from the yard and seeing you laugh at how scared I was.
Even though I’m an adult now with my own family, I just always assumed that you would be here, that our lives would go on with our Sunday get-togethers, articles from the WSJ in the mail from you, and holiday shenanigans. I’m still not sure that it has fully hit me that you’re gone; I think about you all the time. Selfishly, I wasn’t done. I wasn’t done spending time with you and learning things from you. I wasn’t done hearing stories from when you and my mom were kids, stories about Grandpa and Grandma when they were young, and stories about the six of us cousins when we were little. I wasn’t done taking walks with you and watching you have in-depth conversations with Lottie and Dallas about a variety of topics. I just…wasn’t done.
I feel a little unmoored, to be honest. Those of us left behind are searching for a new normal without you, and it’s hard. I hope that as lost as we feel, being with Grandpa, Grandma, and Lynnie makes you feel found. I promise that we will never stop sharing your stories, your memory, and your heart. We miss you, and we love you, Aunt Gerri.
I don’t know how my mom starts these, so I’m going to start it like this: Geraldine Mary Pigott died. I don’t know exactly how she did, but what I do know is that it was fast. Gerri wasn’t the type to be hooked up to machines or in a nursing home. She was an independent woman that could do amazing things. She would walk everyday (I think, she did it often, I know that.) She delivered Meals on Wheels to people younger than her. She gave birth to 4 wonderful kids in her lifetime: Sharin, Ted, Tim and Lynn. Lynn died at the age of 49 and I’m sure that devastated Gerri. One of the things that comforts us is knowing that they are in Heaven hugging and reuniting.
At the visitation and funeral, there were photos of her doing all the things that she loved in life. This includes reading, singing, hugging, talking, telling stories, recycling, and helping people. One specific photo caught my eye; it was a picture of her standing on a stage holding flowers. The caption in sparkly purple letters said “1st PROM QUEEN!” Turns out she was the 1stprom queen ever at her school. When I went to ask my grandmother about it, she said that she had cared so much about her education she told her dad about how her high school was unaccredited, and without a certification on her diploma, no college would accept her. Her dad and some other men fixed it, and she was able to go to college! She didn’t stop at one college though; she went to a lot of them. I remember Ted saying, “she would go to every college if she had the chance.” Gerri really loved school and learning, on the day of the prom, she didn’t go home early to get ready, even though she had the opportunity.
I’d like to share some of my most treasured memories with her. At my uncle’s house we went on a little hike. I was in the back walking with her when she said, “You know, Lottie, Tim just never liked peas.” She went on to tell the most random story ever told. I also remember her basement, it was like the cave of wonders. It had all this old stuff that my mom used to play with. It was so cool to see!
She loved so much in her life: Lynn, Sharin, Ted, and Tim as her children. Kathy as a sister. Carolyn, Tommy, and Theo as grandchildren. K.C and Matthew as her niece and nephew. And me and Dallas as great-niece and nephew. She also loved Shuting with all her heart. Sundance, Minny, Honey, and Judy all had special places in her heart. We love you, Aunt Gerri!