Earlier this month my Aunt Anna passed away. She was was grandmother's sister, which makes her my great aunt and she was truly a great lady.
She lived a long, happy life and her passing feels like the end of an era for our family, a cornerstone missing.
Many of my happiest childhood memories include her. Aunt Anna took me and my cousins to see Star Wars Return of the Jedi, sneaking candy in under our coats. How she packed her granddaughter and I up in her car and headed over to my great-grandmothers for a slumber party, all four of us piled into Great Grandma Lula's feather bed.
When she pulled me into the kitchen one Thanksgiving, squeezing my hand, whispering to me that Christopher was "a keeper."
She was quick to laugh, eager to share, and rarely somber, though I know there were times in her life that demanded it. When I think of the people I know who have a zest for living, a personal style, a flare for the every day, I think of my great aunt.
After the funeral, I sat in her home, the place where once upon a time my oldest daughter
took her first steps.
Gathered with relatives, eating a meal at a card table in the garage
exactly as I had for so many Thanksgivings and Easters and listening to
the stories and laughter I couldn't help but think of all of the generations who had played in her home, been fed by her, laughed with her over the years.
Everyone who knew her has their own Annie story, a tale of something wild or silly or thoughtful or generous, ways in which her life touched theirs. While there were tears, there were also so many smiles.
In that garage there's a map of
the world with dozens of pins embedded.
The walls of her home are filled with family photographs, shelves lined with books.
By her hand friends and family wrap up in dozens and dozens of afghans and crocheted baby blankets.
Friends, we should all be so blessed to leave behind such tangible
evidence of a life so well lived and loved.
I know that I am looking at the walls around me and what stories they tell with a more discerning eye today, wondering what they say about me and the life that I am living.
We all leave a legacy. How much zest we add is up to us.