My Aunt, someone who knew what family meant

Last year I lost my Aunt. This is something I wrote in memory of her.

My Great-Aunt Claire

My Great-Aunt Claire was not a woman I extremely close with. I knew her and loved her and I wish I could have spent more time with her. She was a funny and sweet woman who truly had just a big heart. I can remember her home so clearly like it was just yesterday when I had last seen her.

Her home was in the countryside, lots of trees and grass. At least it was back then I don’t know about now. Maybe one day I’ll go back and see that house. She had a wonderful front yard with a porch you could sit on at night and just see stars because city lights weren’t blinding you. I’m not a country girl, not even a little, I will always be a city girl but there was something about how my Aunt made this house so inviting and wonderful.

Oh and she loved all things cow. I had been warned before going to her house that there were going to be a lot of cows. And no not real ones, although I’m sure if she could have she would have had one. In her lawn she had many a lawn ornament of a cow. It followed you inside. Anywhere from her lawn to her kitchen, cows were everywhere. And strangely enough it was tastefully done. It’s kind of a thing on my dad’s side of the family. All the women seem to have a favorite animal and are completely in love with them. My grandmother, my dads mom, she loves bears. His sister, my aunt, she loves pigs. I love all animals because I’m a big hippie, but I do love owls. It’s a thing, that’s just the way it is.

So she loved cows. It was wonderfully endearing. It really fit her personality, just a sweet and kind soul. Her home was always warm and comforting. And she made the best chicken and dumplings. I mean the BEST. And she had the best sense of humor.

For the last couple of years she’d been getting progressively sick and it had gotten pretty bad apparently. My dad didn’t tell me yesterday that she wasn’t going to make it past the weekend. She didn’t make it past last night. She passed away yesterday on Wednesday November 16th. The last time I had seen her I was 12 years old. And she was probably the sweetest and kindest person I’ve known. I wish I could have truly known her like my cousin got to. I wish I could have been there to say goodbye and thank her for wonderful summers. But I hope she knew, even if she couldn’t remember who I was. I will miss my Great-Aunt Claire. She truly knew how to make someone feel right at home, and she had a wonderful home. And I think she is what made it feel that way. I hope she can finally rest easy and that God is letting her come home to a lot of cows. Miss you Aunt Claire, I know everyone will.

 

Later after I had written the above:

When I went to her funeral it was…strange. My uncle couldn’t remember me anymore, what an incredibly sweet man though. They no longer lived in the big house I remembered, they hadn’t for a while. They had been living in a very small apartment strangely not more than three minutes from the funeral home. It was so horribly heartbreaking to see my Great Uncle in this place by himself. Harder to have imagined my Great Aunt, someone who was so amazing at making everyone feel at home, living there as well. It took everything in me not to sob in front of all my family.

She had an open casket service before being brought to her final resting place. I had never been confronted with death so head on before. But the thing is, it’s not as if it was even my Aunt anymore. My Aunt’s soul was no longer in her body, she was gone. So her body is the only thing that laid there in that casket. It wasn’t the way I wanted to remember this kind hearted woman. You could smell the chemicals used to preserve the body and I just simply couldn’t look straight at her. Distant relatives hugged her and brought their small children to say their good-byes and it felt so eerie. Wrong. We had surprised my grandmother (Aunt Claire was her sister) she hadn’t expected to see us there and when she saw us she started to cry. I think having us there gave the extra support she needed.

When it was time for Aunt Claire to be moved to her resting place, it was a slight drive and when we got there my heart sank as well as my dad’s. The cemetery that my Aunt would be laid to rest was no longer surrounded by trees. Instead in the background loomed a horrible warehouse. Forever she would sleep next to something so hideous; listening to the sounds of lunch bells ringing. It was a very cold day, and my uncle was the last to leave. Her wake was held at this restaurant she had used to work at many moons ago. It was bittersweet. I still think about her to this day. And my uncle too; I hope he doesn’t feel too lonely. It’s been almost a year and you can still feel the world has shifted now that she’s no longer here. But I know that she’s happy wherever she is and she waits for my uncle. I only hope that when I leave this world that I could have touched someone’s life the way she touched mine.

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