Her private notebook, like most diaries, a place to set down her secrets, her loves, her anger and resentments, her desire for romance. Nobody longed for the right man to walk through her door more than Aunt Mary — even in her 60’s, she knew somebody she thought was “cute” would show up with candy on Valentine’s Day, with a teddy bear holding a sign that read “Be Mine.”
With her Songbook, Aunt Mary would lie across her red satin bedspread every Sunday, like a teenager, listening to the American Top 40 radio show and writing down the list of songs. She missed Kasey Kasem; she tolerated John Tesh because he had a pretty wife; she was fiercely loyal to the men who sang love songs especially for her. Elvis and Alan Jackson and Englebert Humperdinck.
Aunt Mary’s Birthday Book kept track of both celebrity and family birthdays — checking Aunt Mary’s book is how I found out Maureen McCormack (Marsha Brady) and I share the same birthday — and when someone left this world, she kept track of those dates in the same notebook, writing the word “DIED” in all caps, red ink, next to their name. I recall this one:
April 5, 2008 — Charlton Heston — born Oct. 4 (DIED)
So tomorrow, March 10, my mother will be gone 12 years. Tomorrow, March 10, would have been Aunt Mary’s 70th birthday.
Here’s to you, Aunt Mary. You had to write things down. Maybe I get it from you. And just so you know I haven’t forgotten, here’s your man Englebert singing one of your all-time favorites.
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