Inspiring Women: Remembering My Aunts

Last week, my Aunt Vivian passed away. She was 92. The picture below shows my mother’s family when I was a little girl.  Aunt Vivian is standing, fourth from the left. (I’m the kid seated to the far right on the front row.)

Back row L-R: my parents, Bob, Vivian, Great Aunt Locky, my grandparents, Wayne, Deloris, Bill, Barbara

Back row L-R: my parents, Bob, Vivian, Great Aunt Locky, my grandparents, Wayne, Delores, Bill, Barbara

As I prepared to attend her memorial service, the realization floored me that all of my aunts are gone from this world.  This led me to reflect on each one of them and their impact on my life. I had four aunts, three by marriage.  I knew some of them better than others, but each one of them was important to me.

We lost  Aunt Margaret, my father’s sister, first. She went early in life, and I’ve missed her laughter.  To this day, I can still hear her, probably because she brought fun and laughter everywhere she went. We carried on a pen pal correspondence when I was young and she never spoke down to me. Margaret remembered us at Christmas, too.  Her gift box, which arrived soon after Thanksgiving, contained beautifully wrapped gifts with tags that gave cryptic clues about our presents. It was delightful torture trying to figure out what was in the gift. I still have the sewing basket she gave me when I was ten and that year’s gift tag with its clue (see below). Aunt Margaret, also, played and taught piano. I took lessons for nine years, although not from her since she lived a long way from us, and she was a great encouragement to me.

An early family photo. Margaret is on the couch between my grandfather and her husband, Cody.

An early family photo. Margaret is on the couch between my grandfather and her husband, Cody. I’m on the floor on the left.

auntmargaretclueinside

The clue on my gift one Christmas.

 

About ten years later, I lost my Aunt Barbara, which, again, was way too soon. I identified with her because of our shared name. In our family, we had Aunt Barbara, my mom who went by Babs but was Barbara, and me. Her husband, my Uncle Bill, still reminds me that I have his favorite name. I didn’t know Aunt Barbara well, but I remember her as a practical and elegant woman who was kind to me. My best memory of her is odd.  We were visiting their home and my stomach started bothering me.  She gave me Mylanta, which I had never had.  My cousins wrinkled their noses and warned me it tasted awful. I liked the chalky flavor. I don’t use Mylanta very often, but I can’t see a bottle of it without thinking of Aunt Barbara.

My Aunt Delores succumbed to cancer several years later, yet, she too, went before her time. I remember Delores as  movie star gorgeous–elegant and graceful. She had two sons, and the youngest was the only cousin close to my age on either side of the family.  She always spoke to me as if we knew each other well.  We didn’t, but I appreciated her ability to make me feel comfortable and welcome in her presence. She was married to my mother’s younger brother, Uncle Wayne. Mom was very close to Wayne, so maybe that’s another reason I felt a closeness with Delores.

Which brings me to Aunt Vivian, the spitfire. Even the comments made at her service reinforced this part of her nature. She was married to Uncle Bob, an incorrigible jokester, so I think either he picked a spunky woman or she developed her spunk to contend with his antics. Vivian outlived her husband, a son, my parents, and her other two sisters-in-law. During her service, several people spoke. Her granddaughter’s words reminded me that Vivian shared something unusual with me:  raising grandchildren. However, Vivian’s significance to my life holds another place in my memory. During a family get-together when I was in my late twenties, she said to me, “When are you going to publish your book?” Surprised, I asked her how she knew that I write.  Her answer became the first lines in my writing bio:

Barbara V. Evers, began story-telling at the age of four.
She couldn’t read, so she roped others into taking dictation.

I have no recollection of dictating stories to Vivian, but she remembered it over twenty years later, enough to believe that I would be published. I was thrilled when I could finally tell her about my first publication.

Today, two of my uncles remain, Uncle Bill and Uncle Wayne, Mom’s oldest and youngest brothers respectively.

As we grow older, we begin to realize the impact of various people in our lives.  Each one of my aunts affected me in some way, either large or small, as did (and do) my uncles.

I was blessed to know them and find it hard to believe most of them are gone. I’m just glad they were part of my life.

Do you have family members who have made an impact in your life? If they’re still with you, make sure they know how much you value them.

 

 

 

Why Do We Love Superheroes?

Courtesy of Pixabay

Courtesy of Pixabay

Yesterday, I sent my grandchildren to school wearing superhero T-shirts.

Why?

The family of the six-year-old boy killed in the Townville school shooting requested that people attend his funeral in superhero clothing instead of suits and ties. Jacob loved superheroes, and the whole country embraced this idea.  Stores sold out of superhero-themed clothing, and many people wore them as they went about their day, even if they weren’t attending the funeral.

This got me to thinking about why we love superheroes.

Superheroes represent our need for someone who steps in and saves us from the bad guys. A person with supernatural abilities who has a knack of showing up when people need them, kicking the bad guys to the curb, and ensuring we’re safe.

I have good news for you!  He already exists!

  • There is someone who is always there.
  • There is someone who saves us.
  • There is someone who keeps us safe.
  • There is someone with supernatural abilities.
  • There is someone who people turn to when they desperately need him, and he’s always there.

All we have to do is seek Him and He will be there. In fact, even when we forget to seek Him, He is there.

Who, you ask?

The Holy Trinity:  God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We love superheroes because our souls cry out for someone who provides us this love and safety.

In Isaiah, we see His power and our yearning:

We have a strong city;
    God makes salvation
    its walls and ramparts.
Open the gates
    that the righteous nation may enter,
    the nation that keeps faith.
You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord, the Lord himself, is the Rock eternal.
He humbles those who dwell on high,
    he lays the lofty city low;
he levels it to the ground
    and casts it down to the dust.
Feet trample it down—
    the feet of the oppressed,
    the footsteps of the poor.

The path of the righteous is level;
    you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.
Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your laws,[a]
    we wait for you;
your name and renown
    are the desire of our hearts.
My soul yearns for you in the night;
    in the morning my spirit longs for you.
When your judgments come upon the earth,
    the people of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 26: 1-9

In Psalms, we see how we yearn for Him:

As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God? Psalm 42:1-2

My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. Psalm 84:2

Is it any wonder that we are fascinated with the idea of a superhero? Our souls know we need Him.

My heart breaks for the family of Jacob Hall, but I’m so glad that he had a savior superhero to bend down and scoop him up in His loving arms and say, “You are safe. You are loved. I am here.”

Never fear, Jesus is always here.

 

How To Express Condolences: What To Say To Someone Who Has Lost a Loved One

Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
I Corinthians 15:51-53

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What do you say to someone who has just lost a loved one?  Many of us stumble and find the words, “I’m sorry,” to be a little weak.  As someone who recently lost her mother, I appreciate any words that acknowledge my loss. “I’m sorry” is sometimes the only thing people can think to say.  At least they say something, that’s what matters. But some people manage to present the perfect sentiments, the ones that encircle our pain and give comfort.  Today, I thought I’d share some of the ones I’ve experienced with you, so some day, you can be prepared with more than, “I’m sorry.”

A few weeks ago, my sister and I gathered pictures of our mother for her memorial service. All of us agreed this picture of our parents when they were newlyweds was one of our favorites.  What does it say to you?  We saw their joy and happiness, but my daughter, Heidi, saw more.  If you look closely, my Dad appears to be just putting his arm around Mom as if she’s just entered the room.  Someone else, outside of the picture, is handing her a drink.  Everyone appears welcoming and happy.  Heidi told me this was how she envisioned my mother’s arrival in heaven,  Her husband, there to greet her and draw her close while others gathered around, the joy of reunion in their faces.  I love this interpretation and will never look at that picture the same way again.

My daughter’s thoughts took time to compose and express.  Many people attempt to provide comfort in a card or email which means you can think about your words, first. My best friend wrote a simple, but healing, note at the bottom of the card she sent me:

No matter what the circumstances, we’re never ready to lose the person who gave us life.
May the one who gives us eternal life comfort you.

Simple, but powerful words that express exactly how I felt at the loss of my mother.

Online, I had mentioned to a private group that I suddenly felt like an orphan.  One sweet sister, responded to my pain in this way:

…the scriptures also speak of death as an enemy and an enemy that will be utterly destroyed in the last day. So…it isn’t natural to say good bye. So grieve that you may be healed. The God of all comfort is anxious to heal all your wounds…

She validated my feelings of grief in these simple words.  What a blessing to be given the acknowledgment and understanding of my feelings!

Other people help with poetic statements. When my father passed away in 2005, one of my mother’s friends wrote this on her condolence card.  I kept it because it said so much:

A butterfly lights beside us like a sunbeam.
And for a brief moment
its glory and beauty
belong to our world.
But then it flies on again
and though we wish it could have stayed,
we feel so lucky
to have seen it.

Isn’t that beautiful?  Doesn’t it say what a person is feeling at that moment of loss?  I wish I could attribute this to the poet, but I don’t know who wrote it.  Please tell me if you know.

And I’ll finish with a note I received from the Nurses Assistant Training program at Greenville Technical College.  Their students spend their CNA internship at the nursing home where my mother lived for the last two years. Many of their students cared for my mother during this time.  In a brief, but heartfelt note, the director wrote:

Please accept our sincere sympathy.  Thank you for sharing your mother.  She taught so many of us.

When a parent spends their last years in a nursing home, unable to do much of anything, we often wonder why. How can their life have meaning at this point? What a blessing to be told that your parent still had a few lessons to teach.

The next time you say, “I’m sorry,” to someone don’t berate yourself. It is appreciated, but maybe these examples will help you find other ways to comfort someone at their time of loss.

If someone has found a special and significant way to comfort you in the loss of a loved one, won’t you share it here?  We can all benefit from these pearls of wisdom.