How can a niece summarize all that her aunt has meant to her? In the 32 years this beautiful character in our family’s story shared her love with me.. .I learned so many lessons, which became glaringly apparent to me the moment I learned of her passing. A month has passed, and allowed me to reflect on my fondest memories of her. Among the most valuable gifts I received from her are an interest in trying to look on the bright side of every situation. I have so many sentimentally appropriate stories to share about her, and that is another of the real blessings of having known her. When I was about 16, Auntie Trisha and I went to the mall, with Uncle Craig acting as chauffeur to our “Ladies Day Out”. Wandering from store to store, I felt free to show or share with her any sparkly bauble that caught my eye. Testing her at Claires, I mused, “How about a piercing?” To my surprise, Trisha plopped into the chair and smiled, “Let’s do it!”
This was the kind of delighted, enthusiastic response you could expect from her. A writer, Trisha spoke to her loved ones with an artistic flair for wording. You never just looked, “good,” she would shout phrases of, “Mee-row, you look like the cover of a magazine!” The short hair-do she sported for most of my life matched her spunky responses and you-go-girl praising. I gained permission to have a lot of self-confidence through her views. Also gained; a love of telling our families stories. For wanting to capture the everyday moments and make them special, worth preserving. Trisha would've just loved facebook. She could remember all the most interesting family going-ons. Following and creating traditions was important to her; every year when the kids were young we would go to her house and gather all her collected Christmas ornaments to be hung. Each ornament would have a story and each of us cousins could hang it where we thought it looked best. She didn’t care how the tree looked in the end; that we were all there sharing a fun afternoon was what she found pleasurable.
——–> Besides, she’d tell each of us after we’d hung the ornament in hand that we had put it in “just the right spot.” <———
Throughout the years, I received many a written letter or poem thought up to celebrate a special occasion. She was one of the first people I know who printed her gifts on patterned paper, and I have often thought this simple act may have encouraged my own love of papercrafting. Trisha was the ultimate kind of care-giver. She sincerely cared about each and every part of your life that you shared with her. She was everyone’s biggest advocate, recognizing talents and struggles her loved ones may be facing and offering heartfelt praise or advice as needed. If you thought it was the end of the world, she would agree that it might feel that way, but help you to see a brighter side to the situation.
————> And if you thought you were on top of the world, well, she would have already known you’d end up there. <——— <———
What is it about human nature that allows us to overlook opportunities we have to share time with our loved ones, only to realize fully how many moments are lost when those moments are no longer available? I know how much it would have meant to her if I had visited more often. It had been a long, long time since I had reached out to her instead of simply responding.
Although I know what a forgiving person she strove to be, still one of the hardest pieces of my acceptance puzzle to place has been that perhaps she had no idea what an invaluable influence she was and always will be to me.
I’ll never again have the pleasure of commenting in a way that prompted one of her full body chuckles. Or to put on a fashion show for her, to send her a thinking of you card, to pick up the phone and share a cute anecdote about the kids, or to tell her with my arms around her that I love her. I can’t perform any of those tangible actions, but I can hold close to my heart the memories of how much she would have enjoyed each one of them. I can pass on the compassion, understanding, and wisdom that she shared with me, to my own children, and their cousins. I can be that spunky, encouraging, artistic aunt that loves to hear a story, and is willing to write it down. I can hold tight to, and create, new family traditions.
As our family celebrates her life today, I know her spirit will be there with us, sharing in the laughter and sneaking into every embrace... we love and miss you Patricia!