Monday 10 March 2014

To My Auntie Anna: I Love You and I'll Miss You.

To My Auntie Anna:

I started to write this post at the beginning of January. My family lives about a 6 hour drive away, and my Aunt lives another 2 hours from there. This distance and busy schedules make visits few and far between. Although I cherish the visits I do get, it is so easy to say next time, or soon, or I wish I could. These are all true and truly legitimate reasons for not being able to visit. Scheduling a trip requires time we often do not have. 

Over the Christmas holidays we visit my family and my mother-in-law. Christmas holidays are two weeks long, family time is short, my Hubby only has so much vacation time, and my kids are teens and have homework to do over the holidays. My kids also want to have some of their holidays left to visit friends, and do some of the things they want to do. Between the visits and the two days of driving it is a pretty rushed trip. My parents and mother-in-law only get 1 1/2 days of visit time each on the Christmas visit.

My Aunt has been sick for some time. Not a sick she will recover from, but a sick that would see her deteriorate over time. She is a kind, and generous soul, with a great sense of humour, and a twinkle in her eye. Auntie Anna always manages to stay positive, and have a smile for me no matter if she doesn't feel that way on the inside. When I was young she always called us Pumpkin, and had her coat pocket full of change, which we got to reach in, pull out as much as we could and keep it. As an adult we would banter over politics and religion. She knits me colourful dishcloths by the dozen, and shares the beautiful cards she makes. My Aunt is a talented artist, and I cherish the painting of hers I own. 

Often she would visit my parents over the holidays, or in the summer, and for most of my adult life this is where the kids and I would see her, at my parents while we visited as well. In the past couple years she has been too sick to travel, and my parents would visit her instead, so I seldom got the opportunity to see her. This summer I added an extra day to my visit, packed my parents and my kids into the van and drove to see her. We had a wonderful day, went out for lunch, and my kids took turns with my Dad pushing her wheelchair on a walk through the park. She loves seeing the kids, and the kids love her, it is impossible not too.

Flash forward to Christmas time, my Aunt is not doing well and I am afraid I may not get to see her again. So I add a day to our visit and pack up the van with my parents, my kids, my sister, and her daughter, and off the 7 of us go to visit Auntie Anna. My Uncle who lives in the same building gets wind of the visit, and he and his wife join in the visit, and that makes 10. My cousin, whom I have not seen in 20 years since her wedding hears we are visiting and gets her family into the car and drives the 2 hours from the opposite direction to visit, and that makes 14. My poor Aunt, feast or famine, but she seemed delighted, and it was a lovely visit. Another Uncle calls and we debate if he and my Aunt can make it in time to be part of the visit. Yet another cousin I haven't chatted with in at least 10 years calls and we all have a chat with her too. What a day, so worth making the time to visit.

A few weeks ago my Mom calls me to tell me my Aunt did not have long now. My parents are in Florida, and I'm an 8 hour drive away. My younger who lives closer decides to drive for a visit and Skype from Auntie Anna place. I knew she was very sick, and in a lot of pain, but she looked so good, and was smiling and waving to me. It was so special to see her.

Today my Auntie Anna died. 

As I prepare for the long drive for her funeral, I wish I had written this post before when she was alive, and I was reflecting on that visit, or even the Skype chat. I wish I had written this when the tears were of laughter at how cute she was showing me her socks matched her nightgown, and wasn't she a fashion plate. 

Today as I write this it is with tears of sorrow, reflecting on the loss I feel at never again having the opportunity to visit with her. Make time for those visits, hard as it is sometimes to fit them in, it is those memories we will cherish, rather than regret we didn't make time. Sometimes next time, or soon never comes, and it is what we do when our loved ones are living that matters.
Good Bye Auntie Anna. I love you and will miss you and all the sunshine that you were. xo


  1. Cathy, as much as I don't want to say the usual "great post", truth be told it is. I truly felt through your post how great your Aunt was and how you felt for her. She also comes across to me as a very smart person right up to the end, which tells me she knows what you thought and how you felt about her. I do give you the sympathy from our family in your time of loss. It las most seems though that she would much rather a celebration of the life she lived to carry her memory forward...

  2. Thanks so much for your kind comment Matthew. Apparently she was painting on Thursday. :-) She will be missed.

  3. Your post really moved me, Cathy. I have a very dear aunt whom I am so lucky to still have with me. She has been my rock for so many years, and has helped me so much, I don't know what I will do without her. I could see so many similarities in your story, some made me laugh, and some made me tear up. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your aunt sounds like she was one amazing lady. You have provided some great advice for the rest of us and I live that weekly. I make sure to visit my aunt and parents each week, with very few exceptions. You just never know when you won't get that chance again. She may not have seen your post, but you can be sure she'd be smiling from ear-to-ear with pride if she did read it. XO

    1. Sandy thanks so much for reading the post and commenting. It means so much to me. We do our best to balance it all, but sometimes I wish there was just more hours in the day.

  4. Touching. I am in tears.

    I love your comment about letting people know how important they are when they are alive. Auntie Anna knew how important she was to you. Funerals always make me sad because everyone comes together for such a sad occasion, however, it seems like you had quite the party at Christmas. Gotta love Auntie Anna and her coordinating socks.

    Besos, Sarah

  5. Such a touching post, Cathy! I agree, we shouldn't leave visits until it's too late. Your Auntie Anna seem like she was a very special person. I'm sorry for your loss.

  6. That's so sad Cathy - so difficult to lose a loved one, especially when you're so far away. Being the daughter of immigrants, I remember those middle of the night phone calls from Europe when someone took sick, and then the agonizing decision making that had to take place about when and if to go. I'm sure your Aunt knew how much she meant to you. These things are always a reminder on how important it is to life fully and seize the day. Take care, xo.