My Father’s Sisters

****I wrote this as a Facebook Note about four years ago, but always thought to myself that if I ever started a blog, I’d share it there. So, here it is.  🙂

 

For no apparent reason, during the night last night, I got to thinking about my father’s sisters who have passed. My Dad is the youngest of seven, and has six older sisters. Four of them have passed, which is hard to even imagine, especially if you are blessed to have a sibling, and share the love that often comes with that relationship. So for whatever reason, my four Aunts, were on my mind. So much so, that I felt compelled to begin writing a bit about my remembrances of them. Perception is a funny thing if you think about it…each one of us perceives a person in a particular way. We have experiences with a person, in certain settings, at different stages of our growth and maturity, over many years if you’re lucky, in good times and hard times, in different spots on our globe if you travel with that person, or sometimes always in the same little place in the same little town where you first met. Nevertheless, the experiences you share with a person, completely….wholly shape your perception of who they are. Of course you might consider what other’s perceptions of that person are, but truly, it’s up to you alone to truly know a person….to understand who they are and what they’re about.

All of this to say that the thoughts and remembrances that came to my mind about my four Aunts who have passed, when strung together, make up how I perceived them to be. I do think (and of course, hope) that others who read this, who also knew these women, will find commonality in their own perceptions, or at least that something written will spark a memory, shared or singular, and a smile to go along with the memory. Even with a profound faith, the promise of reuniting when your days here end, the only thing we truly have on this side of Heaven, is the memory of who they were, and what they meant to you…….

Aunt Gloriann. (Gloriann Lloyd Haitz)  She was good with her hands…..in the way that every food she prepared tasted so good, and was good in the way that just breaking bread with her formed a sweet memory for you to remember her by. She was good with her hands in the way that when she spent time with you, talked with you, embraced you, her genuine and loving spirit stayed with you. She was good with her hands in the way that the children she raised and the manner in which she raised them, caused them to grow into loving adults, to marry their heart’s other half, who raised another generation of our extended family tree….who grew to become beautiful adults, some of whom have begun to have and are raising her great-grandchildren….and she would be immensely proud, and would be overwhelmed by the joy they bring her children—the grandparents (and Great Aunts/Uncles) of this newest generation. She really seemed the part she was–the matriarch of the family. She was wise….tender…inclusive….beloved by the wives of her sons, which speaks volumes about a woman. She left behind a strong legacy of faith, family…warmth….the beauty of simplicity and a realness only few can achieve.

Aunt Linda. (Linda Lloyd Sappington) She was beautiful, inside and out. She was refined, sophisticated…well traveled….so smart, so cool, so chic. I always wanted to be like her. At times, she had a little curve to her smile….my father captured this in a photo during the wedding reception at my cousin Stu’s wedding, in 1986. It’s my favorite photo of her, as it truly shows her personality. When I see the photo, even in my mind, it makes me remember everything I knew about her. I’ve never said this to anyone, but that photo, even though I had no way of knowing it at the time Dad took it, I believe has played a significant part in why I am a photographer. The power of expression and eyes….in the nuances which make up your persona….these things come alive through photographing people, and that’s why I love it. So Dad, thanks for that photo of Aunt Linda.  She was inspiring…caring…had the sass and style every woman longs to have. She followed her heart her entire life, which is a more difficult thing to do than it should be, but she seemed to know how. She had an encouraging heart. She made a lasting impression…a beautiful and positive one, on those she loved. She touched more lives than she probably realized. She loved living, and being who she was….she was remarkable.

Aunt Joyce. (Joyce Lloyd Olson) She had a smile that lit up the room. She was a deeply passionate woman…she loved baseball and teddy bears….she loved her children and her grandchildren. I was fortunate to live in a neighboring town to my cousin Kevin and his wife Tracy, when they gave birth to Aunt Joyce’s first grandchild….a girl, who is now a beautiful grown woman. They didn’t live in this area long, but lucky for that new little granddaughter, they moved south, and she was blessed to grow up knowing the love and devotion of her Grandma. She had good stories to tell….she had a wonderful laugh, and was fun to talk to. She was fiercely loyal, and a hard worker. She was devoted. She took time to send cards and always, always, always sent photos in the mail, and always with a detailed account of the story the picture held. I can’t help but imagine how much she would have LOVED Facebook!  She made it a point to be there, in person. This was evidenced (among other times) by her coming to my wedding. It was 104 in the shade that day, she wasn’t in great health, and the heat was tough on her….but she came, she was there for us that whole weekend, and it is something I will cherish my entire life.

Aunt Delores. (Delores Lloyd Peterson) I was close to all four of these women, but particularly close with my Aunt Delores. I spent a lot of time with her in my young adulthood, which I didn’t get to do much with Aunt Joyce, and not at all with Aunt Gloriann or Aunt Linda, since they both died during my junior year of high school. She was, as I’ve always been told by family, the most like my father’s mother…my Grandma Elsie, whom I never had the chance to know. Heather and I are the youngest of the grandkids, so she and I are the only two out of sixteen who were born after Grandma Elsie’s death.

Aunt Delores defined strength…..fortitude….what it meant to live by faith. There isn’t an unkind word imaginable. When it comes to her, she was everything that is good and comforting…..everything you would hope to be as you grow old, and as revered as “regular” person could be. She was an extraordinary human, and I miss her. I learned so much from her…..I have countless memories of time spent with her over the years, good and happy memories, and sad memories too. Sitting around a table with her, just visiting, just listening….sharing…..what a gift. She was staying with us at the time when Jorn asked me to marry him, and for the time we were engaged, and for years after we married, she’d greet me with “Well there’s my little bride-to-be!” We drove 15 hours through hard rain, from Texas, to her home in Colorado…..she waited up until after 1 in the morning for us to arrive, and spent another thirty minutes that night playing with and snuggling a three-month old Adelaide. A few days later, as we headed out of Colorado, she learned she had ovarian cancer…..I still thank God that we had the opportunity to go see her that day….that we hadn’t left Colorado yet, and that we’d had such a nice visit together. She loved her children, her grandchildren, and her great grandchildren. She had fun with them…..she knew the value of laughing together….of praying for one another….she knew the power of forgiveness, and handed it out regularly. There just aren’t enough words to describe the good, of this special woman……

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