Aunt L. Always Has Love

Aunt L. is about love.A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. James Keller

Isn’t love like a candle?  Loving one person doesn’t mean loving someone else less.

Think about it. Did you love your first child less after you had a second child?

My Aunt L. is very ill. She is at the point where her family and friends are more concerned that she is not in pain than the status of her various ailments. Sure, we pray for a miracle but accept reality.

As you can imagine, it is a sad time for the family. However, I don’t want to be maudlin. Instead, I want to think about lessons I can learn from my aunt. While there are many lessons I have learned from my beloved aunt, there is one in particular I want to focus on.

That lesson is love. My Aunt L. is like that candle. She is a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to many. And she loves them all not to mention her siblings and their families. They are all wonderful in her eyes. No not perfect but lovely. So lovely and she loves them.

Aunt L. and I talk periodically on the phone. She always says she loves me before hanging up the phone. It’s not a mere formality to her. And it doesn’t feel that way to me. She means it.

Ms. MMK tells of how Aunt L. hugs her and tells her she is wonderful when they are saying goodbye. This is usually while our children are going batty, and Ms. MMK is feeling frustrated.  That compliment when the boys are creating chaos is a morale booster.

Yes, Aunt L. makes me certain that a person can love as many people as they desire and not run out of love.

Loving your family is a trait that many people can identify with.

But Aunt L. isn’t only about family.

After she retired a few years back, she volunteered at local hospitals. She dressed up as a clown and visited children in the hospital.

She always greeted the toll collectors with a smile and a, “How are you?” She used to offer them hard candies and wish them well.

She once had a 30 minute phone conversation with a wrong number. Well, that one might be a family legend, but she never denied it.

Yes, she is kind to everyone. She greets them with a smile. She is always ready for conversation.

Love of family and kindness to strangers is a wonderful legacy to create for the next generations. However, there is more to Aunt L.’s story.

She has lived through tragedy.

Aunt L. married in 1954. Thirteen years later she and her husband were expecting their fourth child. The two of them went out one night during Aunt L’s third trimester. That evening they came home, and her husband didn’t feel well. Aunt L. called an ambulance. Her husband was dead before the ambulance made it to the hospital. He was just 40 and suffered a heart attack. Some people felt so sad for Aunt L. that they avoided her as they didn’t know what to say.

But she persevered and raised four children on her own. And she did it well. She found ways to pay the bills and keep up the house. But it wasn’t easy. Her children are her life, and she does everything she can for them.

With all four children married, Aunt L. became a grandmother many times over. Life was good. But then Aunt L’s oldest daughter was diagnosed with gallbladder cancer when she was just 41.  She was dead less than a year later.

Would anyone have blamed Aunt L. for being bitter over the tragic losses of both her husband and daughter?

But she is as far from bitter as anyone I’ve ever met. Sure, she mourns and misses her young husband and daughter who passed all too young. Yet it has never changed her overall outlook. It’s always about love. It’s always about kindness.

As she has said to me many times, “What can you do? Just do your best. You know what I mean?”

Yes, Aunt L., I know what you mean.

So, as Aunt L. lies ill, I pray for a miracle. I also pray that I learn from her life and how she lives it.

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