Last Friday, we gathered in loving memory of our aunt. It was a sad occasion; she was 86 years old but still full of life. She lost her fight with cancer after having won the battle a few years before. We had spent some time with her before her passing, and I am grateful for that. We knew she was in pain, and it must have taken a lot of effort for her to get out of bed and spend time with us. She sat with us for more than an hour and had the best conversation. She shared many stories of her parents, her late brother, who happens to be my husband’s grandfather and her life in general. It was a pleasant visit.
Fifty-seven days after that visit, our aunt transitioned. I broke the news to the children, and they were saddened; they knew she was ill but not to that extent. The two older children could process the information differently from the two younger ones. Death is not easy for adults to grasp, much less a couple of 5-year-olds. Their questions were many, and I tried to answer them as best as possible.
As sad as funerals are, it’s always an opportunity to meet family members we did not know existed. Our aunt was one of six children. Each of the six children had their own family, and the family tree had bloomed. As with many families, siblings migrate, and the distance causes families to lose touch. For many years, my husband and I had thought we were alone in Canada, but we discovered an entire village all within a stone’s throw of where we currently live. The children met their third, fourth, and fifth cousins. Family is important to us, so the children meeting cousins far down the tree was a huge deal.
In Loving Memory
We gathered to honour the memory of our aunt (great aunt to my husband and great-great-aunt to my children), and it was bittersweet. During funerals, these famous words are always mouthed; “we should make an extra effort to stay in touch.” I agree that we should not just meet on occasions such as funerals. While we exist on Earth for a few fleeting years, we should try to stay in touch and hand out flowers when we are alive. Let your family members know how you feel about them. Tell them you love them daily, and stay in touch as much as possible. Introduce cousins to one another.
At the funeral, I started to think of my mortality. I am unsure how many years I have left, but I pray it’s at least 59. I would love to achieve our aunt’s privilege that allowed her to see her children grow into adults and become parents and grandparents. I would love to see my limb on my tree blossom into a redwood tree, standing tall and majestic, growing year after year and producing new nodes that eventually become their trees.
Our Aunt Lived A Good Life
Based on the eulogy given by our aunt’s grandson, she was a kind, loving, selfless person. She was never harsh or angry, a great provider and a free spirit; may her soul transition peacefully. She loved and was loved; she enjoyed her years and lived a good life. What a privilege it was to have known her. Sleep well, auntie.