Originally posted April 11, 2007. Since it's coming up on the 3rd anniversary of the death of my Aunt Wanda, I wanted to repost what I was feeling then.
My favorite Aunt passed away last week and her funeral was Monday. She was a wonderfully funny, strong, bossy Christian woman. She is who I aspire to be. She was 87 years old and spent the last 18 years taking care of her invalid daughter at home, despite 2 heart bypasses. She taught piano her whole adult life and at the time of her death, she had 30 students. Her funeral was an amazing tribute of laughter through tears. My family has dealt with all the blows life can throw at them with laughter. It's how we deal. Case in point....my recent episode of rock stealing.
My cousin and her dad, me and my dad, my husband and my Uncle David, along with my young impressionable son, took a road trip on Easter Sunday to my dad's birth place in Braggs, OK. Picture this....3 old men, Jay, 2 forty-something women and a 7 year old piled into one van. The van is today's equivalent of the station wagon, so my cousin and I were in the very back with my son. You know, where the kids sit. ( Some things never change, apparently.) Our mission... to retrieve a rock from the old homestead. Not just any rock, but a rock my grandfather "engraved" with my dad's and uncles names back in 1941. There were 8 kids in my dad's family and they were all born in that house. There were bad jokes cracked during the drive about bail money and police chases. And we laughed. A lot.
The lot is abandoned and the house long burned down, but those 3 old men knew exactly where that rock was. Dad and the uncles took one look at it and decided it couldn't be dug up. My cousin and my husband grabbed the shovel.. So while I took my post as look- out in the street, they dug up the rock. Dad and his brothers were busy distracting a neighbor. In our family, fortunes have been made and lost, loved ones have passed on, marriages broken apart, illness has touched us; but at that moment, nothing, and I mean NOTHING meant more to all of us than that rock. A piece of our family history. Solid. Whole. Timeless. Just like our family. We loaded that 72 pound rock with my grandfathers handwriting on it into the back of the van, laughing the entire time. And I believe with all my heart that my Aunt Wanda was watching from Heaven. And she was laughing with us.