(Side note - I added this first line after I typed the first four paragraphs and realized that I've diverted way off-topic. But bear with it, I'll get there eventually.)
One of my favorite aunts will likely pass today. Although (Sponsor's Name Here)'s Official Parents, as well as My-Sugar-Na, are taking this kind of hard, she is 81 and not-so-gradually over the last 10 years or so became less of the aunt I'd become fond of. She became cranky and depressed, and she always had some physial ailment to prattle on about. Over the past few years, I've been mourning the loss of that person. Now as she prepares to enter God's Kingdom, I am more concerned for her five children and their immediate families as they prepare to bury both parents over the course of 14 months (my Uncle Vince had a massive heart attack right around Christmas 2006, and the day he died, I am sure my aunt died, too. The Lord, however, wasn't quite ready for her until now).
The Auntie El that I remember was the type of person that - when she walked into a room - she held court. Not in a stand-up comedian kind of way, but she just had that presence and that way to tell a story. She would be going on about something, and she would get to a detail that she couldn't quite remember. She would say "Jay (her nickname for my uncle), do you remember why my peach caftan - you know, the one with the yellow blossoms - got caught in the toaster oven?" He would reply "It was because you were sweeping the kitchen floor." She then would say with disdain "It was not!" Then he would smile, shake his head, then join us in listening to the rest of her story. Auntie El was also the one that introduced me to the fun of Latin Mass (when it was held in the chapel at the semniary)
My Uncle Vince had one of those government jobs that people look at and say "He got paid how much? To do THAT?". Then he retired quite young. My aunt had mostly been a stay-at-home mom (because that is how it worked in the 50s through early-70s). However, I do remember that she took a job waiting tables at the University Club... probably as much to get out of the house and socialize as anything. Picture Rosiland Russell as Auntie Mame with Uncle Vince playing the part of Patrick Dennis (granted, my aunt looked more like Lucille Ball, but I've seen both versions of Mame and Rosiland Russell pulls off Auntie El far better than Lucille Ball). Remember the scene soon after the 1929 Stock Market Crash and Mame was a clerk in a department store? I could easily picture that as my aunt at the Club. Mame had only been taught how to process COD orders, and walked the floor trying to get the customers to order COD. I can see my aunt, having only been shown how to refill coffee, walking around the dining room with coffee pots chanting "Coffee! I can refill your coffee" ("Ma'am, I would like another gin and tonic." "Sorry, sir, I can only refill coffee!" she would say, gleaming.)
Another comparison to Auntie Mame is the scene near the end of the movie where Auntie Mame has this new platform furniture, and she is trying to impress company by raising the platforms with the cords that were located across the room as sort of a control panel. The scene ended in pure hilarity as the cords got messed up, and some guests were raised to the ceiling and others spilled their drinks as the platforms went off-kilter. A few years ago, she got a new walker with a seat attachment. She then demonstrated all of its features (at one point, I expected her to put a few drops in the laundry to get my clothes the whitest).
While laying in bed this morning thinking about my aunt's last few days, I wondered if - as a devout Catholic - she had received her Anointing of the Sick (the current way of calling them the Last Rites). I assumed that she did, and wondered if her parish priest, Fr. Lou Ferrigno (well, he really did look like him) administered them, or if another hospital priest took care of that sacrament.
And then it hit me like a flash of lightning. Jesus Christ himself probably said "Its about time somebody thought of this!"
Way back (like, in the 50s) the sacrament was known as Extreme Unction. What a way to get the younger kids back into the church... something EXTREME. The church could call it X-UNCT. Kids would be down with that, wouldn't they?
Granted, the Catholic Church would need a tag line, something like "When your Maker calls, make sure you answer TO THE EXTREME! Call your priest and get down with the X-UNCT!"
I can imagine in a few days, when Auntie El is meeting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. St. P-Dog (as the young Heaveners call him) has got a voice like Duffman (from The Simpsons) and askes my aunt "X or not? It takes an X-TREME sacrament to pass through these gates" My aunt will respond "HEEAAAAAUUUUUGGG, X to the MAX!"
The Gates open, my Uncle Vince is waiting for her and takes her to their Heavenly living room where Jack Benny, Vi & Jerry Loper (family friends) and some guy that once knew the Ricardi's (more family friends) are sitting on the furniture. Auntie El says "Sorry I am late, but ugh, that St. Peter. Jay, I don't like how this furniture clashes with the china in the hutch."
And Heaven begin to learn the joys of Auntie El.