I had come to my Aunt Sandra's house at the beginning of summer, in June. Thirty days before my favorite month.
It was after my mom had gotten us into an accident on the highway, causing 5 people to be flown in a helicopter to the nearest hospital. She was drunk, again, but it wasn't even one of her worst nights.
The police had been on the scene in an instant, it seemed, and swarmed all over us. They could not find any alcohol in the car, of course. I had been careful to get rid of all the empty bottles before I drove to the bar at 11 pm to fetch her. Her blood alcohol level was 0.15. A big deal in little old Pennsylvania.
Anyway, my mother had "decided" to go to rehab, after heavy persuasion from me. But I knew I couldn't fend for myself. So, before she left, I had my mother take me to my aunt's house, out in the country.
Literally. She lived in the middle of a field.
Her hair was the color of the wheat field that surrounded her little house, and her eyes the color of the dirt in the vegetable patch beside it. Before I had lived with her, my Aunt Sandra had always been the first one to show up when my mother was arrested, or when she couldn't pick me up from school for one reason or another. Aunt Sandra was the dictionary definition of "reliable". I don't know if I was ever appreciative of it, or if I at least showed it.
Sitting on my bed, now, I realize that everything I have today is because of her. The bedspread I am laying on, the roof above my head, the walls around me. It may sound cliche, but I wouldn't be where I am today if she hadn't stayed in my life. It would have been easy to desert me, her niece, and my mother, her own sister. Just like my father had.
It doesn't mean I have ever thanked her for it.
But that doesn't mean I have never considered it.