Who we lost Ky: Laughter was at the center of our relationship - story about Joyce Bugg by Diane Hawkins
WUKY is collaborating with Martha Greenwald, creator and curator of 'Who We Lost KY' a writing project where friends and families who have lost loved ones to the pandemic pay tribute and in some cases, say their final goodbyes. Today’s essay comes from Diane Hawkins from Jefferson County about her Aunt Joyce Bugg. Gary Graves reads.
I went most of my life without talking to my aunt only because we lived in different cities, but when she moved to Radcliff, Kentucky in 2004, I made sure to be around her on a regular basis. My mother always wanted me to get to know her sister, and this was my opportunity. We talked and laughed — on the phone, at the movies, and countless lunches and dinners with a huge side of laughter. She even met my friends, making them her friends with her unique sense of humor.
I was her “faaaaavorite niece,” but I reminded her that I was her “only niece.”
“That’s not the point!”
Several years ago, I was leaving her house in Radcliff, and a wayward deer appeared to be charging toward us but ran farther away. “Rudolph” was more afraid of us than anything, but we still bumped into each other trying to get back into the house. “I saved your life!” she said proudly.
Her so-called heroic effort made her feel good, that’s all that mattered.
Another time, I was visiting my aunt in the hospital, and she needed a blood transfusion. The nurse walked into her room and announced, “I have your B-positive ready.” I perked up and said, “Hey, that’s my blood type, too. So, it’s in our blood to ‘be positive,’ get it?”
“Get out!” she said, feigning disapproval of my clever pun. Actually, she thought it was funny that I stayed in her room, laughing at my own joke.
During the pandemic, we resorted to talking on the phone. When I did come to visit, it was only to knock on her door and drop off food supplies and face masks, including one designed with Michelle Obama’s images, which she loved. I would leave before she could open the door for social distancing purposes.
Several months later, there was one time I couldn’t reach her on the phone. Knowing that I would be worried, my cousin (her son) called to tell me that my aunt had been rushed to the hospital with Covid-19. Thank God, the hospital’s nurses allowed us to talk to her on Facetime. My aunt always had a sense of humor, even throughout her hospital stays with heart issues. This last time was not any different, and she joked with my cousins and me without missing a beat.
Even though the nurses warned us that she didn’t have long to live, my aunt’s personality was still as strong as ever. Maybe the nurses were wrong.
Unfortunately, they weren’t wrong, and I have missed my aunt every day since January 28, 2021. There are times when I look in the mirror and I’m reminded of her because of my dimples — a family trait.
I guess I’m meant to smile so that I can see them. I like to think that’s another reason why she always tried to make me laugh.