RIP Franky & Ann

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: True Confessions  |  House: Booksie Classic

A true story of life altering event

RIP Franky & Aunt Ann

~Whitney Mikutowicz

On Easter Sunday at my usual family gathering everyone gathered in my grandparents’ kitchen while I sat toward the end of the table nibbling at my aunt’s banana crème pie that I had enjoyed all eleven years of my life. The warmth from the fire and strong smell of my grandmother’s food mixed with my Crazy Aunt Lisa’s powerful Chanel perfume seemed nothing less than home to me. In my naïve young mind, everything was great: great food, great company, great laughs. 
Through the blissful chaos, I gazed at some of my family members sitting around the table my grandma had decorated with family pictures. She covered the table with pictures, and put a thick layer of glaze over them, and finished it with some sort of hardening agent. I never knew what this type of table was called, but my cousins and I were always fascinated with it. When we would look at all of the pictures, and we recited the times and places where each one was taken, laughing about the stories behind them never got old.
I gazed at my family members who were sitting at that wonderful table drinking beer and pop, while losing our annual game of euchre, a game my eight year old cousin Franky (who had Leukemia) and Aunt Ann dominated as a team. Franky and Aunt Ann would practice playing euchre all year long with different groups of people so that, when Easter rolled around, they would win every bet they had placed on the game. The two of them were together most of the time, since Franky’s dad, Frank, was working as much as possible to pay the hospital bills. I laughed as I saw Aunt Ann pull on Uncle Frank’s armpit hair after she caught him sneaking a look at her cards; he squealed such a high pitched noise that she stopped pulling because it hurt her ears. As I was giggling from afar, my mother tapped my shoulder and said it was time to go home.
As I made my rounds, saying goodbye to everyone, I hugged Franky and planned a play date with him for the next day . We planned to play trucks like we had always done. Play dates with Franky were quite an incredible event in my life at the time. I had just gotten a kiddy suitcase to carry my trucks in, so that I could more easily bring them to the hospital where Franky was. I fondly remember playing on the rug with pictures of buildings and roads on it in the St. Joseph Children’s Center. I also remember my parents talking and worrying with Uncle Frank. I didn’t understand why they were so worried at the time. In my eyes, Franky was a normal kid; he just hung out in the hospital a lot.
The next day at school, as I sat in my 5th grade classroom, I was so excited I could barely sit still. My classmates already knew all about Franky as I talked about him repeatedly throughout the day. By lunchtime none of my schoolwork was done, however, my trucks had gotten all cleaned up and had new stickers on them.  Toward the end of the day, I convinced my teacher, Ms. Manzo, to let me call my mom to be sure she would be right on time to pick me up at 3:30. I knew it would take a half hour to get to St. Joseph’s, and Franky needed to get some rest by 6 o’clock, doctor’s orders. I thought out the games we would play with our trucks and what kinds of car accidents we would act out; I even made sure my mom was going to bring some peaches for us. I would have preferred marshmallows, but she insisted he eat something healthier than that. At the time I thought everyone was being mean to Franky by not letting him eat any of the delicious junk food everyone else ate. So I saved half of a Snickers bar in my backpack for him.
Finally, the school day came to an end; I busted through the doors and scurried to my mom’s car. I hopped in and hugged my mom as we drove away from the school. It was a beautiful day; I pulled off my sweatshirt, rolled down the window, and stuck my hand out to arm wrestle the wind. The day couldn’t have gotten any better until my mom’s phone rang. She picked up and it was my Aunt Ann. I assumed she wanted us to bring something else to the hospital with us, so I continued to playfully chop my hand into the wind. However, my mom’s voice dropped, and she told my Aunt Ann she would call her back when we were no longer in the car. I looked at her in confusion as she turned the car around and the light became a chill; it was quiet as I rolled my window up, and curled into the seat with my sweatshirt. I calmly asked, “What’s going on mom? We have to go to the hospital Franky is waiting for me.” I was clueless to the fact that something bad had happened - something sudden, something dreadful. All I knew was that I was supposed to play with Franky that afternoon, and now we were heading back home. It wasn’t going as planned but I could tell by my mother’s tone it was not something she could control; so I didn’t whine to her, I just sat there, disappointed the whole ride home… I wanted to play trucks.
We pulled into the driveway and my mom told me to go ahead and play trucks in the living room, while she called my Aunt Ann in the other room. She said she would tell me what’s going on as soon as she could, and not to worry. The fact that she told me not to worry, made me worry. I wondered what happened at the hospital and a million questions ran through my mind as I crashed trucks into each other: is Franky okay? Is he sick? Is everyone safe? It was only about fifteen minutes until my mom calmly came into the living room and asked me to sit with her on the couch; she had something to tell me.
There was an eerie silence as I climbed up next to my mom and she wrapped her arm around me as if to brace me for what she was about to reveal. She told me that Franky had passed away while I was at school that day. I didn’t know how to react. I couldn’t react. I was in shock as I sat there motionless. My eyes remained dry as I got up and walked to my room. At age eleven, I didn’t have a grasp on the concept of death; I almost thought I could just re-schedule the play date, and play trucks with Franky the next week. As I sat quietly in my room, I wrote a letter to Franky, and addressed it “Heaven.” In the letter I asked Franky why he left on the day we were supposed to play trucks. I wondered why he made the plans if he wouldn’t be able to follow through with them. A million thoughts ran through my mind as I contemplated all the reasons why Franky left on that day. I finished the letter with a stamp, placed it in the mailbox where it would, to my surprise, never be read.
Nearly four days after Franky’s death, my family gathered once again, only this time it was at a funeral home, and the blissful chaos became distraught silence as we passed Franky’s casket saying our prayers one by one. I peered past the casket, under my father’s elbow that he had rested on a shelf with flowers and pictures of Franky on it, to see my uncle Frank walking my way, with one of Franky’s small toy boxes. He knelt in front of me and sat the box on the floor and, as he slowly opened the box, I looked down at my uncle curiously even though I knew exactly what was in the box, wondering why my uncle had brought it to the funeral. He sat the lid next to the box and, sure enough, it was full of Franky’s trucks. My uncle Frank said he wanted me to have them, since Franky wouldn’t be using them anymore. I smiled at my uncle and giggled as if it were silly of him to think Franky would suddenly stop playing with the beloved trucks.
 As my uncle stood to hand the box over to my mother, I noticed my Aunt Ann, alone, standing at Franky’s casket. Unlike everyone else, my Aunt Ann was not weeping, appearing sad yet still strong; I thought she must have been thinking the same thing as me, that Franky would be back to play trucks in a week or maybe even two. My Crazy Aunt Lisa went to comfort my Aunt Ann, as she placed her hand on Ann’s back and whispered something in her ear. However, Aunt Ann tried as hard as she could to be strong as she looked away and bit her lips trying to hold back tears. I wondered why, I too, wasn’t crying. I wondered if I was under-reacting, or if everyone else was over-reacting. It still had not hit me that Franky was gone forever, and it still wouldn’t for a long time after.
 The next day at school went regularly as it was scheduled, yet I was deeply confused about my cousin and, I looked forward to getting his reply letter in the mail. I came home from school that day on the bus, only to walk in the front door and find my mom in that same spot on the couch where she had told me Franky had passed away. She asked me to set down my backpack and sit down on the couch with her. That eerie silence returned, as I climbed on the couch with her once again, and she wrapped her arm around me in the same way she had done previously.
First she asked about my day at school, and tried to make small talk, yet I knew something was up, so I begged her just to tell me whatever it was, whatever good or bad news she needed to tell me. I knew the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice, and the chill in the air. It was all the same as when she told me about Franky.
She finally agreed to tell me, and she said that my Aunt Ann, whose whole life had revolved around Franky, was pronounced dead in her bed that morning, not even five minutes from when the ambulance arrived. Her husband was getting ready for work around six in the morning when he noticed she was cold and still. He called 911 immediately and told them to come right away, his wife was not breathing. The paramedics instantly pronounced her dead, and there was no hope of saving her. Later that day we learned that my Aunt Ann had overdosed on just about every medication in her medicine cabinet the night after the funeral.
I wondered why she did such a thing. At the funeral she seemed so strong, and so sure, like me, that Franky would be back soon enough. She surely must have been hiding all of the pain deep inside her. Clearly my thoughts were only those of a naïve eleven-year-old.
The next few days I sat playing trucks alone after school; I never did reschedule that play date. I never heard from Franky or Aunt Ann and it still, somehow, didn’t faze me. Weeks passed, and I would ask my mom to call Uncle Frank to re-schedule but I made myself believe she was just forgetting to make the call. I still hadn’t gotten that letter back. Before I knew it, several months had passed, and I had not seen or heard from Franky. Even years passed, and with that, Easters passed too, and everything seemed to slowly go back to normal, but still no letter.
It wasn’t until three years later, on Easter Sunday, at age fourteen, that I sat in the same seat toward the end of the table nibbling that same banana crème pie, that I gazed happily around the room only to spot some family members sitting at that awesome dining room table. There was something missing this year, something that I always loved when I was younger, something intangible in the air, something off, someone that I had missed deeply. And that was the exact moment, at age fourteen, that it had finally hit me: Franky was gone, and he wouldn’t ever be back to rule the annual game of euchre that we stopped playing after his and Aunt Ann’s deaths. Aunt Ann, she was gone too, and she would never be back either.
The night after our Easter gathering, when I arrived at home, I walked into my room and saw those trucks, Franky’s trucks, still sitting under my TV stand in my room. For the first time, I cried about Franky and Aunt Ann’s deaths. I wept so hard that my mom heard, and came into my room urgently to see what the problem was. I felt so deeply sad, and lost, and confused at the fact that it was all real after all. Still, it shocks me to think that I can’t just call Franky or Aunt Ann.
I’m still waiting for that letter.


Submitted: April 17, 2014

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