Daddy’s older sister Aunt Pearl left us this morning. That’s happy news in the sense that her earthly tent was worn out from well over 90 years of habitation; thus, her passing released her from the ordeal of advancing years and failing health, much like Daddy’s passing was solace last year. But at the same time we mourn, perhaps more for ourselves than her, because she was the last of Daddy’s generation. Papaw, Mamaw, Uncle Bud, Uncle Tom, Uncle Jack, Daddy all went before her. She stood as the last survivor of the decent working class folk from whom we’re decended, people who understood the value of hard work, the care of family, the right cause of neighborly conduct, and the need to fear God along the way. That’s a legacy which my brothers and sisters and all of our children hold with pride and gratitude.
Considering her as a cast member in the parental clan, I could characterize Aunt Pearl as unique, as a remarkable character, as a colorful personality, as outspoken in many opinions; all of those are accurate descriptors, but they’re really insufficient to accurately depict this family icon who looms so much larger than life in our memory. She truly was an icon, partly because of her longevity, but more because of her unforgettable, inimitable, incomparable character. She was a fount of family lore to both my generation and to my kids. We listened with rapt attention to stories and tales from hers and Daddy’s childhood down in the Parish where her family grew up. Her memoirs were ever saturated with homespun history and humor, flowing in almost musical eloquence and delivered in the most charming St. Bernard accent ever heard along the banks of Bayou Terre aux Boeufs.
In the end, though, considering my Aunt Pearl and how I will remember her, I look beyond the rhetorical virtuosity she displayed in so many memorable renditions of stories, rants, and commentaries. I believe that what I will treasure her for the most and love her for the longest is the affection she ever made us feel us as kids, and later our kids. I remember that affection for her little nephews and nieces from my earliest recollection of Aunt Pearl when I was a toddler all the way through middle-aged adulthood. No matter how old I grew, when I was in her delightful and entertaining presence, I felt like a little boy all over again. I beleive she really enjoyed her role as “aunt,” and as one of the best ever, she became over the years a constant, an anchor that fastens us still to our identity as “Pullings.”
So, her memory does remind us that we are family, the common descendants of Walter Lee and Aurelia Belmonte Pulling, good people of the earth, and as such, a blessed family and people. And, we’re happier yet that we look forward to a reunion with Aunt Pearl in the glorious installment of eternity that follows the present.
As often as she blessed us with gregarious laughter in a thousand or more grand family times, may God bless her precious memory.