Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Tribute To My Aunt Jean

It's hard to put into words how I feel about Aunt Jean's passing. Of course the natural emotions of loss and nostalgia pure over me, but there's something else. A strange sense of frustration as I try to bring to mind her facial expressions, her voice and most of all her personality. We were robbed of all or most of that years ago as multiple sclerosis ravaged her body. How can we not feel a sense of unfairness? The utter waste, as each year more of Jean disappeared.

I can't help wondering why it is that some are snapped up in an instant. They're here one moment and then their gone. Why others linger, trapped in a body that no longer serves their soul, and we mourn each lost faculty, one heartbreaking moment at a time. 

You won't hear me reciting familiar, age old Psalms about comfort and peace. I won't justify it all with a simple, God works in mysterious ways or she's in a better place. Not because I don't feel those things, I do. As a matter of fact I envision Jean painting, moving her brush across the canvas of the sky, tilting the light between the leaves just right. I feel her warmth in the sun on my face, the squeeze of her hand as I caress my grandchild as he sleeps. 

I don't have any answers. Any more than I understand the suffering around the world and how a loving God could stand by, let alone watch. I'm saddened by the greed and pride that wreak havoc on our world. It's easy to feel despondent, lost upon the sea, as others yell their judgements, calling unbelievers sinners and puff themselves with pride that they have all the answers. 

But I don't need any simple answers. I don't need to understand all the mysteries of why some are born with sight and others never see. I'm content with what I know. Which isn't very much. 

When I think of my Aunt Jean, I think of light. How her life, however stifled it appeared, still brought joy to those around her. She may not have been famous or discovered something new, but her energy of spirit drove all that's right about this world. 

So when I'm sad or frustrated I can think of my Aunt Jean who always made me feel so special, like a little princess in her care. I remember sitting still in a chair as she gently brushed my hair and pinned it up. She whispered in my ear how fun it was to have a girl since my cousins were all boys. Once or twice while attending USU, I popped into their church service and surprised them with a visit. She introduced me proudly, beaming ear to ear. I've never forgotten her artist eyes, always bright and open wide as if she didn't want to miss a moment of the beauty of this world. There was an energy within her, a light that never wained. She gifted that to us, to all of us that knew her. I'm proud to carry a small part within my heart.

Jean's been on my mind for the last few months and I regret not reaching out, there was something I was sensing, a kind of soul connection. I hope someday, when I feel those tugs of spiritual communion, I'll be more inclined to act. I want so badly for her to know how much her life meant to me. 

There is something I can do. I'll bring more joy to those around me, help them see the beauty that she saw. Because when all this earth has passed away—all we really have are our connections to each other—they're what matter in the end. 


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your aunt. It is so important to remember the happy times and the special times you shared. So sorry to hear she had ms and the struggles she had to go through.

    Sending you a hug!

  2. Thanks, Jess. I really appreciate your thoughts. Life is so short and so very precious.

  3. She sounds truly lovely, and brought to mind my Great Grandma, who died when I was still young (7 or 8) but still accounts for some of my warmest memories. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your comments. It is amazing how it's small moments that hold the largest impact.

  4. Beautiful, dear daughter! Did you read my blog tribute? She was amazing. She inspired all of us. At the funeral and the room where visitors paid respect, all of her paintings were on display along with photos of her life and her children. She painted more than I remembered and won several awards. I really felt linked to her in spirit then and now. Love you!

  5. This post moved me deeply. I have a cousin by marriage and a niece by marriage and a friend of many years, all of who have Parkinson's disease, which has many similar effects on the person suffering from MS. All of them are coping bravely with it, and your aunt sounds like she had a brave spirit as well. The picture you share of her is lovely: both in words and in the photograph. I have a feeling she knew (and knows) how much she meant to you.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I will never understand the suffering but the suffering ends and the spirit soars free.

  6. I love your tribute Pam. I too was truly touched by her spirit. She is an amazing person and Aunt to me. I loved going to her house and listening to her talk. She fascinated me and looking at the big painting in her house, made me decide then and there that I wanted to paint. It was there that I would escape into the paintings and walk around in them in my imagination. How wonderful that you were able to spend more time with her while you went to college there. That would have been awesome. Well, I like your blog. You are a very good writer. I couldn't write to save my life. Some people are just blessed with talents... Thanks for sharing your stories. I would love to hear more about your life. Love, Your Sis, Paula


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