By: Cheryl Maguire
Everyone wishes they had an Aunt Mimi. Somehow, I was lucky enough to have one. She was the type of aunt that would not only attend all your major life events, like your graduation and wedding, but did so donning a pantsuit, long before Hilary Clinton inspired #PantsuitNation. She even wore one to my parent’s wedding in 1970. Who wouldn’t want a cool aunt like that?
Mimi made up for her small stature with her loud, boisterous voice and beaming smile. She knew how to command a room, which earned her the coveted role of the Mayor of Parsippany. Any time I met someone from New Jersey, I proudly boasted the fact that I was related to “The Mayor.” They always seemed impressed, even when they had no idea where Parsippany was located.
Mimi was married to my mother’s brother. My mother didn’t have a sister growing up, but Mimi quickly filled that void. I remember them talking for hours and hours on the phone despite long distance phone fees. She knew how to make my mom laugh almost as well as I could.
Mimi, a diehard Democrat knew how to spice up family gatherings by debating politics with my conservative father. In my opinion, she always won, but my dad would beg to differ. Even though these “discussions” got quite heated, they never parted ways without a loving hug.
She was proud of being a mom to her three boys. When I became a mom of twins, my mom loved sharing the stories about how Mimi was a mom to twins, and how she would see tons of baby bottles scattered all through the house when she visited.
When I learned of her passing, my daughter asked me, “When was the last time you saw her?”
I paused, trying to remember. I hadn’t seen her in a while, but I know she recently liked and commented on my Facebook post, so I felt connected to her. It felt like she was cheering me on from afar. Plus, she was always there during all my family gatherings growing up or my major life events.
My last memory of spending time quality time with her was at my sister’s wedding. After dancing and socializing with the guests, she made a point to sit next to me and she asked me how my job as a counselor in an adolescent residential facility was going. I told her about how hard it was for me to see teens who were abused or abandoned by their parents.
We then discussed our shared viewpoints about the importance of helping others and the challenges that go with it. After giving me a hug, she reassured me that I was doing a good job. I then felt a little lighter knowing that Mimi supported me. She always had that way about her. No wonder she was “The Mayor.”
As I wrote this, I had to correct myself from using the present tense any time I mentioned her. It’s hard for me to think of a world without my Aunt Mimi in it. But I’m positive that her memory will live on, especially anytime I see a woman wearing a pantsuit.