Aunt Johnnye Mae
Just when I thought I was back on track at regular blogging, we received more bad news for our family.
My Aunt Johnnye, my mom's sister, passed away Sunday. We got a phone call while we were unpacking #3 at camp and getting her all settled in. That began another whirlwind week for us.
my mom and aunt in Italy
My mom and my aunt were very close. My mom was by my aunt's side through the death of some of her children and her husband. They traveled together (and allowed me to tag along), cooked together, talked often, laughed a lot and stayed up many nights playing Rummkib. When my mom was sick my aunt came and stayed and took her to several chemo treatments at Duke University. She held my mom's hand her last days in the hospital and calmed her. My mom's death was hard on my aunt. She told me a few times on the phone since, that she was having a lot of trouble with it.
Little did we know, she too was sick, wasn't telling anyone and would pass away just five months later.
My aunt was a one of a kind and you would not believe all of the things she has happily experienced and had to endure during her lifetime, including the deaths of three of her children. She was a mother of eight, grandmother to eleven and great grandmother to twenty seven. She was still running the family business and keeping everyone in line and on their toes.
this picture was taken just three days before she died
she is meeting, Jett, great grandchild #27
She lived in west Texas, but loved coming home to NC as often as she could. She was just here a month ago. I am so glad of the week she was here and the time I got to spend with her. She celebrated her last birthday (76) here with us. She knew this was her last trip home and the last time we would see her. We did a lot of laughing that week at old family stories and that makes me happy to know that she was able to come home, relax and reminisce. At home she had been burdened with a lot and was under a lot stress including her health.
June 20, 2010
After getting the news, we started immediately making our plans to go to Texas. The next day, we kenneled the dogs and all took our individual flights to Odessa. Some of us flew out on Monday and some had to wait and leave on Tuesday.
My aunt was very active politically and in the community. She worked tirelessly for her candidates and was a long time friend of the Bush family. She spent many hours working for Meals on Wheels and other charities and received many awards for her services. Noone really knew about her many awards because she didn't tell a lot of people. She truly worked out of compassion for others and not for recognition. At the visitation there were displays of some of her photos and accolades.
an award received from Karl Rove
The funeral was held the next day.
one last time trip to the ranch
After the services in Odessa, we left for Sweetwater, Texas (2 hours away) for lunch at my aunt's lake house. We stopped at a rest stop on the way and couldn't help taking a picture of this sign.
You know you are in west Texas when there are signs like these.
my aunt's front door
the lake house
Burial was on her ranch, in the family cemetery, later that afternoon. Let me just say, it was hot, really really hot. I am glad that it was just family and very casual because if it were formal, still and quiet it would have been even more miserable.
you can see for miles
the chapel at the ranch's cemetery
a great grandson with "grandma"
by her husband's side
one last look back
Aunt Johnnye was an important fixture in my family.
My husband considered her one of his mentors and my girls adored her. They always looked forward to her coming to visit. If she was in the house there were stories being told and a lot of laughter.
When my mother passed away in February, one of the things that upset me the most was possibly loosing the connection with my aunt and knowing that apart of my life had ended with my mother's death. I was so at peace with things when she visited in June. It felt good for it to be like old times.
Everything was the same except my mom wasn't there.
One week ago today everything changed again for me and my family.
There is another hole in our heart, another piece of the puzzle is missing,there is silence where there should be laughter...
again, all too soon.