Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Aunt Thelma

I think we've all done it.  I have done it more times than I care to admit.  I get together with someone and "commit" to call, write, visit more often.  I will write or e-mail a few times, then...life "gets in the way" and, before I know it weeks, months and years pass without communication.

Sometimes, I get to re-connect and make the commitment again and do better.  Other times, I never get that second chance.  Sometimes, I find out that the next time I talk to that person will be in heaven.

My aunt died this morning.  She was my dad's "twin."  She was older than my dad, but her looks and personality matched his exactly.  She loved life.  She loved people.  She laughed.  She listened.  She made her home in Florida and California and I only saw her a handful of times in my life.  The last time was 7 years ago when a bunch of us met up in Daytona Beach to memorialize my father - her brother.  I will never forget walking into the restaurant the first night and seeing her.  It had been years since I had seen her last and I was shocked to see my father's face!  I am not sure I have ever seen a brother and sister look so much alike.  I got to know her during those few days and she told me much about my family I had never known.  She was a true treasure - a woman who loved life and loved God.  She was an example that I could have benefitted getting around more.

After that reunion, some letters were exchanged, but I selfishly focused on my own little world.  I didn't make the time to sit and write a letter or make a phone call.  Even after my cousin told me Aunt Thelma was ill, I never called.  I rationalized that I wouldn't have the right words.  Of course, that was ridiculous....with my aunt I didn't need the right words.  I just needed to tell her I hadn't forgotten about her.  But, I didn't do that.

As she was so much like her brother, I know she didn't have hard feelings.  I am not even sure she was hurt by my lack of communication.  Which makes me sadder because those who don't form expectations deserve so much.

When will I learn to stop just thinking about those I love and start communicating that love to them?  Hardly a day passed when I didn't think of my Aunt Thelma, but years have passed without me telling her that.  Now, I cannot tell her.

I'd like to think I will keep in better contact with my remaining family on my dad's side.  I have already looked into plane tickets for this summer.  I am praying a little thing like money won't hold me back from seeing their faces.  I do hope that I will write and drop a line...even via technology...more often.  I think of them all the time.  I am realizing more and more what a precious - and temporal - gift they all are.

Right now, I do smile at the thought of my aunt being reunited with her parents, her sister, and her brother.  They are smiling, laughing, talking all at once, and loving...even more than they did here on earth.  She is hugging my dad, like I wish I could.  I hope she is telling him all about our time in Florida when we were all together.  I hope she tells him that his kids loved him and miss him.  I hope she knows we loved her and miss her now.

I love you, Aunt Thelma.   To my Aunt Peggy, Uncle Richard and cousins....forgive my selfishness.  I love you, all, and please know I will try to do better in letting you know that more often.

Aunt Thelma is the smiling lady to the far right

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