There was a death in my family today. My great aunt has passed away. It was not a surprise, we had been expecting this for a few weeks. It was peaceful and calm, she was not in pain.
She was one of a dozen children, all girls except for twin boys. She was near the younger end, but she had a few sisters younger than her. My grandmother, my mother's mother, was her younger sister. A large family and they had remained in the same region, the same town, their whole lives, they stayed close.
They have been there all of my life, all of my mother's life, that generation has been there.
They are all gone now. She was the last.
She grew up during the depression, was a young adult during World War II. She married a serviceman, like several of her sisters and many other young women during that time. She stayed married to him for his whole life.
She went to college, I think, and worked as a teacher. I think she liked teaching. She read a lot, all kinds of books, a lot of non-fiction. She always went to the library. She read almost until the end of her life.
She was smart, she wouldn't admit it, but she was.
She witnessed the birth of the modern world.
She was an adult during the Korean War, the Birth of The Cold War, Television in almost every home, Elvis, the Red Scare, the Beatles, the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy's assassination, The Civil Rights Movement, The Vietnam War, The Moon Landing, Color television, Watergate and Nixon, The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of The Cold War, Television that you carry around on your phone in your back pocket. All that and much more.
Her husband developed Alzheimer's, she took care of him and enabled him to live out his last years in their home. After he was gone she volunteered at an Alzheimer's care center for several years..
She baked great cookies.
She witnessed the birth of dozens of cousins and nieces and nephews. She never had her own children, I'm not sure if that was a choice, or just what happened. She knew my son and she liked to play with him and watch him grow from newborn to infant to toddler.
She was proud of what I do for a living.
She buried her husband and all her siblings, and their wives and husbands, and some of their children too.
She did all this.
I have never thought much about her life, and all she saw and what she did, until today.
We are born and we die. We connect with others along the way. The circle continues.
She died peacefully and naturally.
In a few days I will bring my son to her funeral, and I will tell him who she was and what she did.