upper left: My great grandmother, brother and me at cousins wedding. Middle: Aunt Liz; upper right My Dad, brother and me-love the clothes; Middle left: Aunt Liz and Uncle Keith in 1975; Bottom left: My parents and brother; Bottom Right: Uncle Keith and Aunt Liz.
Last week, I made a quick trip to Minnesota for the funeral of my great aunt. That might seem like a very distant relative, but in many ways my Aunt Liz was more like my mother's sister (Nana is an only child) since there was only twelve years between them. I joined my parents and my brother for the trip which brought back memories of many trips before.
My Aunt Liz and Uncle Keith lived in a beautiful lake house in a small Minnesota town. For most of my childhood, my family would spend a week of our summer vacationing at their home. We'd swim, boat and water ski and we became great friends with the neighborhood children. The memories I hold in my heart from these trips are among my best ever. I'm sure that's why I love passing on my love of the water with my own kids at our family lake house. It's my way of sharing this wonderful legacy.
Aunt Liz had a fabulous library in her house. It was filled with books and I loved going into the room just to soak up the smell of books. I'm sure a part of the reason I love to read so much is because of how cool it was to sit on comfy couch surrounded by Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, and tons of great books! It was always so much fun to talk books with Aunt Liz, and she never failed to ask me what I was reading.
Because my cousins were all a few years older than I was, a number of my memories of visits to Minnesota also involve a fun wedding with lots of dancing. When my family went to a wedding last spring for my cousins' daughter, I was able to share this love of wedding dances with my own kids too. Miss A still counts that as one of her favorite trips ever.
Aunt Liz was the only person in my life that call me JillBaby and you know I never minded. It was term of endearment and I knew it. My brother had a nickname too, but I know better than share it with the general public. He might kill me. Coming from a very small family, it's been a great joy to have Uncle Keith and Aunt Liz's family as a part of ours. I'm so happy that my kids have Christmas Stockings made by Liz's hands, that my kids have become friends with Liz's grandchildren and enjoyed hours together at both our lake house and at Mall of America.
My heart is sad that I've said goodbye to a wonderful Aunt and that my mother has lost one of her best friends. But I know with all my heart that this is not the end of the story. First and foremost, I will see my Aunt and Uncle again in heaven some day. I'm thrilled that they are there walking streets of gold together after almost 12 years apart. I'm rejoicing that they are seeing my cousin Leigh Ann again who died seven years ago from Breast Cancer.
I also know that the relationship between the cousins has become even more vital. My brother and I have the responsibility and the privilege of carrying our family bond into the next generation. What a blessing that my cousins are such great people, it's not a burden. This loss also reminds me that life is fragile and that I must take every opportunity to show those I love how much I love them.
I'll miss you so much Aunt Liz, can't wait to see you again!