Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Funeral for Aunt Mary

Uncle Bill is Grandma's little brother; a barrel-chested octogenarian farm boy who always has a joke on his lips and a prayer in his heart. He stands out on that side of the family as the class clown, and even those distant family members who haven't visited much will immediately recall him. And by his side for the last 62 years has been Aunt Mary, a reticent little woman with a soft smile. My aunt says she remembers back when they were courting, when Aunt Mary would sit on Uncle Bill's lap and he would make her giggle. My impression has been that her memory was failing over the last few years, but she would always sit quietly at family gatherings and gaze fondly at Uncle Bill while the group swirled around him.

Last Tuesday, the pair were at their retirement home in Florida. They got up together as usual, had breakfast and morning devotions together as always. Afterwards, Aunt Mary left the table for her regular morning nap. Uncle Bill heard a crash in the kitchen, where it appears that she had a massive stroke and passed away quickly. He brought her body back to Michigan and buried her in the cemetery where so many of my relatives are laid to rest, near a headstone already carved with both their names and birth years.

Some spouses can't make the switch to single life after such a long marriage, and quickly wither away. But I think Uncle Bill will be okay; he was able to laugh and joke a bit at the funeral, after acknowledging it it had been "her time." He even winked at me once, when he caught me snapping his picture on the sly.

Some deaths are tragedies. Aunt Mary is buried near her granddaughter Tabitha, who was killed in a car accident while still in her teens. But Aunt Mary left behind a legacy of a strong marriage, children who grew into kind and loving adults, and the unshakable faith she shared with her husband. The last hymn at the funeral was "God Be With You Until We Meet Again."

Fare thee well, Aunt Mary. You were a model for us all.

1 comment:

DJ said...

Just want to express my condolences for the loss of your aunt. Nice picture of your uncle. He reminds me of my Daddy, another Michigan farmer who passed in 2000. I wonder what it is that makes these Michigan farmers grow into such handsome older men. Clean livin', I guess.
best wishes,