By Cheryl Dodson

Saturday, February 29th, 2020.

6:42 a.m.

The phone rings.

It is my Aunt Pat.

She wants to go to Clanton Outdoor Flea Market.

Daddy always kept her well-stocked in red plum jelly. And not just any red plum jelly, the kind the Amish make.

I want to give her an excuse.

I have not been since my Daddy died.

I am not sure if I can face his friends and deliver the news even if it is 6 months old.

This particular month has been hard. He has been gone 6 months and it was the first time I had to spend his birthday without him.

But if you know Aunt Pat, she is persistent.

And her good days are rare.

I get up, get dressed and wake up Reagen.

She is less than thrilled.

“Why Mom?”

I explain to her that when Aunt Pat has a good day, this is as close as she will ever get to the Aunt Pat who helped raise me.

Aunt Pat always tried to make sure I was dressed and ready to go.

From dances to beauty walks, everything was special.

There was no stopping me when I had her Estee Lauder Private Collection powder dusted on my shoulders.

I don’t know if the Queen of England has jewels that felt any more precious than Aunt Pat’s pearl earrings.

“Now you keep up with them…”

I was instructed and nervous until they were placed back in her jewelry box.

I may not have been the best, but I felt like a million bucks.

“I love it when Cheryl thinks she looks pretty,” Aunt Deborah would laugh because I had no shame about smiling at myself in the mirror.

I hope you are as blessed as I am to have an Aunt Pat.

And I hope if she calls you in the middle of the night, you answer.

Maybe it’s the fact that Mother and Daddy are gone.

But there is something about death that make the little things in life so very special.

Like red plum jelly.

Oh yeah, and a jar of pickled beets for Uncle Terry.

We bought them out by the way.

And it was four hours of laughter and recipes and the best part- Family.

Sometimes your “cup runneth over”, when your jelly jar is empty.

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Cheryl Acker Dodson lives and writes in Woodstock, Alabama. She is a passionate advocate for mental health and speaks publicly to raise awareness for suicide prevention. She currently serves on the board of directors for Alabama Suicide Prevention and Resource Coalition (ASPARC) and Indian Rivers Behavioral Health. She loves to share local people and their heartwarming stories.