Last weekend, my Aunt Bea celebrated seventy-seven years of life well lived. I am so proud of my aunt. For all of the challenges she’s faced, she has proven faithful and true to the God she serves. My aunt is like the strong tree the Psalmist speaks of, bearing fruit each season. I often think of her when I admire my beautiful maple.
From my youth, I was always drawn to my Aunt Bea. I longed to know her better. Her visits were always too short and mostly focused on spending time with Grampy. There was something deep inside me that wanted more. When my aunt and uncle left the city and retired in the North Country, I finally had my chance! Little did I know how much impact she would have on me and my family.
My aunt and uncle were there for us through some tough years — juggling young family responsibilities while I was a non-traditional student and into my early career. They were a consistent, steady presence, often filling in to provide childcare on the fly. God bless them, they stayed with our chids for an entire week one time. The Hubs and I took our first real vacation, traveling abroad for our tenth anniversary, with great peace of mind. Our precious young ones were in very good hands. It was quite a week, on both fronts!
Looking back now, I am equally amazed and thankful for their investments in our family during their North Country sojourn. God used them to fill an important gap in our lives. My aunt has been like a grandmother to my chids and a mother to me. Our relationship has grown strong and secure, based on a foundation of unconditional love. We are mutually honest and forthright, challenging perceptions or thinking without fear of backlash. I never have a worry in the world when I am with my aunt. It is among the most comfortable places to be.
Thinking of her this weekend, separated by several states and thousands of miles, I realized there has been no more influential person in my adult life. When I need someone to pray, she’s the first one I call. Although distance is mediated in this digital day, I miss her dropping by in the blue station wagon that seemed to grow wings. I miss being in the same space, long conversations over a cup of coffee that grows cold. I miss sharing good books and the insights they bring to light. And though I know she is where she needs to be and doing important work, I miss my Aunt Bea.
I don’t know where the last twenty years have gone but I am so glad that she has been in them. Everyone should be so fortunate as to have an Aunt Bea.
~ René Morley