I remember the first time I met Aunt Linda; it was at a family reunion and I wasn't even part of the family yet. It's fairly nerve wracking to meet a boyfriend's family en masse, especially when you aren't even engaged. I felt like such an outsider. Aunt Linda pulled me aside, sat down with me in a quiet corner and asked me lots of questions. When our conversation was over I really felt that she wanted to know me as a person, not just as potential family. Since that day, I have loved her for nearly twenty years.
Today my heart is heavy because yesterday, Aunt Linda ended her decades long, in-and-out of remission, battle with cancer and is now at perfect peace, even more beautiful, with a full head of hair and a completely healthy body. I just know that her eyes, always so sparkly and interested, are even more aglow.
Aunt Linda was an avid horsewoman, North Dakota born and a farm girl at heart. She traveled the world alongside her husband, Uncle Delbert. How my soul grieves for him at the loss of a fifty year plus best friend, lover, and soul mate. Together they raised a son and daughter and cherished their grandchildren, making efforts of time and travel to be with them.
Aunt Linda was a supporter. She, with my future mother-in-law, bought me seven cookbooks the Christmas that Donald and I were engaged. I think she was a little worried for her nephew! She flew from Washington to Minnesota for our wedding. She wrote letters of encouragement when we had miscarriages. She wrote personal notes to us in her Christmas letter. When we were stationed in Washington state we were fortunate enough to share our Thanksgivings with her. Aunt Linda's most valuable support, to me, is something I only recently found out.
Donald's grandma, Aunt Linda's mother, prayed for her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and each of their families every single day. By name. Having been privy to Grandma's morning devotions many times on the farm, I can attest that this was a lengthy exercise. When Grandma died in 2009 I felt a great sense of sorrow at the loss of this tremendous gift of love because I didn't know anyone else, besides my mother, so faithful and devout to pray for me, by name, Every. Single. Day.
When I began this blog it was under a time of massive sadness and upheaval. Aunt Linda turned out to be one of my most avid readers, evidenced by the frequent comments she left for me. One day she simply mentioned that she had been praying for Donald, and me, and the boys, every day and would continue to do so. I was beyond moved to know that evidently she picked up right where Grandma left off. I do not, for one minute, doubt her sincerity or honesty. To my soul, I know that she prayed for us daily. By name. With all her heart.
What a powerful legacy.
I hadn't seen Aunt Linda since 2007. I never took the time to thank her for befriending a young girl considering marriage into her huge family. I never took the time to verbally appreciate her steadfast love, affection, and devotion. I do so, now. Aunt Linda, thank you for being such an exemplary woman who loved Jesus, the great outdoors and her family. Thank you for being my friend, and my Aunt, and for being so faithful over so many years when we never even saw each other. I will miss you here on earth and know that our reunion in heaven will be unimaginably sweet.