Monday, January 12, 2009


I just received the news today that my last living aunt passed away. It hit me hard because of two things: she was the last living relative on my mother's side of the family other than my generation, and it made me aware of my own mortality.

I guess I've been aware of it for quite a long time. I was fairly young when my mother passed away and that began the realization that we are all here on this earth for a short time. When my great aunt passed away a few years ago at 96, we all stood at her graveside and recalled all the great memories we had of our lives with her. She was the matriarch of our family. The solid rock that kept all of us together and afloat. Her passing was a tremendous loss in the family. And today my aunt's passing is as well.

Thoreau says, "most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them". The lesson in death, is to live. Live your life to the fullest so that when your day comes, you have "lived deliberately". Live your life so that those you leave behind are left with your legacy and the memories that help them through the grief.

I wrote about my aunt months ago in a book I am writing. Here's the excerpt:

One particular day we had all gone to the beach, as was our usual practice in the summers. I had just been given one of the newest types of Polaroid black and white cameras: you could develop the picture immediately after it was taken. I was making my way around the beach, taking photos of all my aunts, uncles and cousins. One of my aunts was particularly camera shy. She kept running from me, avoiding the inevitable. I was a persistent little kid. I was determined to get a photo of my aunt with my new camera. After thinking I had given up, she walked away from me, confident that she had won the battle. I quickly snapped my camera, getting a lovely picture of her backside. Once the picture was developed, we all laughed and laughed about the “family photo” of my aunt’s posterior. I know she laughed so hard she peed in her pants that day. I still have that photo and smile every time I remember her laughing as I developed it.

I have wonderful memories of my aunt as a child. And I will keep those memories with me forever. Her legacy? She always made me laugh. What a GREAT legacy!

Rest in Peace Jodee...I will miss you,

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