My mom requested that I write something to be shared for my beloved great-aunt Laverne's funeral this weekend... she passed away just several days ago, after a very long and loving and fulfilling life of eighty-seven years. And, well, this short little essay will say the rest, as I hope it will touch others as it touched me to write it.
My earliest memories of my Aunt Laverne must be of the time that I spent, as a child, staying with her and my Uncle Wayne. I was very young, and I don’t remember much very clearly, but a few situations definitely stand out—perhaps the most striking of which is going garage sale exploring, and usually returning to their home with a new jigsaw puzzle to spend the next couple days putting together. Sometimes she would come and help me, but always she would praise and encourage my efforts.
I remember eating ice cream with her and my Uncle Wayne in the living room, and watching some old TV show, and I remember going shopping with them, and one time being allowed to pick out a can of Pringles for myself. I also remember one particular time visiting my Uncle Wayne at the Captain D’s where he was working, and him yelling at me because I tried to come behind the counter to talk to him. I think I cried, but I didn’t know any better and I always had (and still have) a tendency to cry. In fact I am crying right now. I hope it didn’t make them feel bad.
I never knew my Aunt Laverne very well, as far as “knowing” a person relates to how much one knows of another person’s deepest thoughts and feelings and opinions and interests and beliefs. But I can confidently say that I have always had a profound respect for her, because she always struck me as a genuinely kindhearted and caring person. I don’t think I ever heard anything from her other than soft and kindly-spoken words. Granted, I only knew her during her elderly years, and even so very sparingly, but still, it is very much worth noting. Because such is the imprint that she has left upon me, and for this she will always hold a favorable spot in my heart and in my memories. And, similarly, but inconceivably to me, for these same incredible traits and more, I can only imagine how lucky a man my Uncle Wayne is—because he undoubtedly knew her better than anybody and was the happy recipient of her love and influence and everything that made her her for fifty-plus blissful years.
I would have liked to probe her mind for insights into her thoughts of this crazy world we all live in—what her most cherished memories were, her thoughts on how much the world had changed in her lifetime, what sorts of advice she might want to pass on to a “youngin’” like me, what sorts of aspirations she felt had, so much later in life, proven to be the most worthwhile of all. I feel like so much wisdom might be gleaned from such a person who has lived such a long, full, glorious life. I may have missed such a chance, but she has left a legacy for herself, buried deep within all of the people she ever touched… most deeply of all, I imagine, with the person who was there with her for practically every step of the way, her lifelong husband, my uncle Wayne.
In a way they are powerful role models for me, because I hope that the love that is in my future can be as true and as long-lasting as theirs has been. Fifty years seems like almost an eternity to me, sitting here with the vast majority of my life ahead of me, but I imagine that at this moment, from my uncle’s vantage point, the very same amount of time must seem almost like a fleeting glimpse.
And so I hope that he still believes, after all this time, as I do, after almost no such time, that the best is yet to come. Not only in this life, with our loved ones, but also after this life, also with our loved ones, once again. My heart goes out to him and I wish him all of the hope and goodwill I possibly can. Because I wish for him to still experience all of the joys and glories that this worldly life has to offer him, in his friends and his family and in his passions, before at last ascending into the heavens where his true glory awaits him, and offers him her arms once more.