Monday, April 23, 2012

Smiling through the tears

Tonight I sit here lost deep in thought with a heavy heart. I woke up this morning (more accurately it was afternoon) to a text message from my daddy. All it said was "Aunt Wanda passed away this morning". The only thing that escaped my mouth was "Oh, no"... twice... AJ sleepily asked me what was wrong, and I told him the news we'd been waiting to hear but dreading all the same.

My Aunt Wanda was one of the funniest women I've ever met in my life. She was technically my dad's great aunt--my great grandma's little sister. She was in her early 80's when she passed today, and she was like an "extra" grandma to me growing up. Her kids/grandkids live in California and Arizona, and she lived out west with them and in Oklahoma with us off and on throughout my life. The times she was with her immediate family I missed having her around, but then again I knew that she was with the ones she loved the most. When I was in middle school, it was one of the times she was living here, and my parents had just divorced and her husband passed away, so my dad moved in with her; therefore, every other weekend not only did I spend the weekends with my dad, but also, my Aunt Wanda. I guess she was in her late 60's/early 70's at the time, and she had more energy than women half her age. I loved the time spent with her. She would cook us dinner--before she retired she was the head of the nutrition department for a large school district in California. I loved when she cooked for us. She's the only person in our family with a culinary background, maybe that's where I get my love to cook and love for my job. She tried to teach me to sew, now I wish I had learned. She used to threaten to beat my brother or dad with her shoe, I believed she'd do it. She was inappropriate and wonderful. She cussed like a sailor and no matter how badly my parents didn't want her to in front of us, she did it anyway. She was the epitome of the idea that when you get old you can say or do anything because you've earned the right. She never pretended to be anyone but herself. I loved that most about her.

 (Aunt Wanda and Colt Wesson September 2011)

She got frail and sick with age and moved back to Oklahoma a little less than a year ago. I think she knew her time was coming so she came back here to rest in peace where her husband of so many years passed away as well. She had my grandma here to help take care of her. She had my dad and his sisters too. I'm glad she knew she was loved here. I'm glad she got to meet AJ. I'm glad she really liked him. I'm glad she got to meet my sweet nephew Colt (her great, great, great nephew). I'm sad my future children will never get the pleasure of knowing her. I'm sad I didn't take the time to go to the nursing home to tell her I loved her just one last time. I'm sad that it takes situations like this for my WHOLE family to come together again for the funeral.  I'm sad that her granddaughter that she raised won't be able to make it for the funeral because of selfish decisions. I'm hurt by selfishness, but I'm hurt the most from the loss of a woman that truly broke the mold. I strive to be as bold as she was in her life. I strive to be a strong woman like her. I strive to keep her strength alive by remembering her.

Today was not a good day for me, but as I sit here now and remember, I can smile through the tears because I know she's not in pain anymore. I also know that the world lost a great woman today...

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