On the day of my mother’s funeral, my favorite aunt passed away. She, too, had been battling disease (Alzheimer’s). I know they are both up in heaven playing cards and laughing with my dad, uncles, aunt, and grandparents. I imagine the reunion was filled with love and stories.
My Aunt Francis was so special to me. We were ten years apart and when I went to live with my grandparents at three she was there. She took care of me, and as she reached dating age she bribed me to leave her boyfriends alone. I always wanted to go along on their dates so I received her coveted pink teddy bear to stay home. I loved that bear to death, literally. I was brown and gray when it left this world.
I loved my aunt’s freckles, red hair, beautiful smile, and contagious laugh. She was my role model, my mentor, and my friend. When she talked, I listened. She was my father’s youngest sibling and only sister. She held her own with four brothers to contend with.
She was a strong, loving woman, who loved to laugh. Oh, and a prankster, too. Our family loved to gamble and she was a winner, no matter who you were. She played to win and lived her life to the fullest, with love and joy.
Like our grandmother, my aunt and I loved to draw and paint. When I started writing novels she shared that she had considered writing, too. She wrote the best letters, putting you right there, watching, listening.
Opening her heart to foster children, just made her capacity to love even larger. Whenever I would call, she was there for me. She challenged me to follow my heart, find joy in every day, and to be strong. She was a unique human being.
When I heard that the Big A had grabbed her, my husband and I went to visit. We didn’t know if she’d remember us, but we had to share our love. Gracious, welcoming, she listened and after a little while, she remembered who I was. We talked about old times at grandma’s house growing up. The smells of cinnamon rolls and banana bread were still there.
Life became a puzzle to her, memories disappeared and the joy with them. Seeing photos of her not smiling, eyes vacant was so hard. It robbed her of her personality, her laughter, and her life. I will miss her so much. But with her passing, I am sure all the memories and laughter returned. She is watching over us all. She loved her family so much. Someday I hope to hear her chuckle and feel her love until I join her.