On Thursday, September 26, 2013 my Aunt, whom I had been caring for over the past few years, passed away. I felt moved to share excerpts from the eulogy I gave at her funeral.
The majority of my childhood memories involve Aunt Josie. She was there for every significant moment in our family. Every birthday, holiday, graduation, school play, wedding, family gathering, as well as many of our family vacations, she was there. Not only did she share in these moments but she captured just about all of them on film.
More than her love of photography was her abundant love for her family and friends. She gave selflessly of her time, talent and treasures. If she had it and you needed it, she gave it. She was the type of person you could call at 2am and ask to come right away and she would get in her car and show up no questions asked.
I often referred to her as everybody’s Aunt Josie. All my friends from childhood to adulthood referred to her Aunt Josie, and she was present at many of their weddings even traveling to other states to attend.
There are many words to describe my aunt:
The list could go on and on.
But in honoring her memory there is one word that sums up the last few years of her life…
Her life had become very different over the last few years with what seemed like one health challenge after another. I feel privileged that she allowed me to help her. I say allowed because for such a private person having people all up in her business was something that was neither normal nor comfortable for her.
There were times I had to physically care for her which, to her credit, she often took better than I did. We discussed things that weren’t so easy to talk about like life altering surgeries and end of life decisions. Though we did managed to discuss important things too such as who we thought would win America’s Got Talent and our favorite – Dancing with the Stars.
Through what felt like hundreds of doctor visits, dozens of surgeries and procedures, as well as in the face of an aggressive cancer she was courageous. What she went through these last few years would have sent most people into a self-pity tirade. (I shared with her on many occasions that if I was her I would have taken someone’s head off by now)
Conversely; through it all, she never complained. Don’t get me wrong, she’d let you know when she wasn’t happy about something, but she did what needed to be done and trusted her family to help her.
She was more concerned with making sure a birthday card got out to a friend than she was about her own issues. She wanted to hear about how we were doing rather than share her own trials and tribulations.
She had the courage to make tough decisions. Decisions that made her world smaller but gave her more time with the people she loved.
But what else should we have expected from a woman who spent her life being courageous.
- Endure the loss of both parents as a child.
- Make sure she and my mom stayed close after they were separated as children.
- Live on her own for the majority of her life.
- Travel to foreign countries – as well as drive around in those countries.
- Take a chance on a new venture after retirement.
- Be the strength for family and friends through trials and tribulations in their lives.
She had the courage to keep on fighting when others would have given up. And, on Thursday morning, when God called her home she had the courage to leave us here knowing that we were going to be ok and it was now her time to rest.