Wednesday a busload of energetic, excited to be on a real farm grade school kids from Chicago came to visit. But I will blog about that latter. Thursday, a cowardly thief, robbed our farm store, in broad daylight. But no one was injured so I will blog about that later as well. Friday, my dear 93 year old aunt, Bernadette Clare O'Shaughnessy died. I will blog about that now.
|My Aunt Bernie with my 3 grandchildren. March 2012|
It was shocking but not at all unexpected, not at her age and her heart health, yet we had gotten so used to her being such a big part of our daily lives we just maybe didn't think it would happen so soon.
I was on my way to visit her as I do often, and just as I was getting ready to knock on the door of her room at the assisted living facility where she lives, a staff member stopped me. My first thought was she has fallen but a deeper look into the nurses eyes and I knew it was one of those permanent falls.
They had just found her about ten minutes before I had arrived.
I helped them clean her and put new PJ's on her because I am a nurse and it's what I do.
I called my sister Mary first because she is my right hand sister when it comes to Aunt Bernie. And the rest is Aunt Bernie's history.We cried and laughed and starting packing some of her things and made coffee and tea and decided who would take the coffee maker home. We discussed how tiny our aunt now looked after being such a huge presence in our lives. Coroner came, good to see an old friend again, evening nurse popped in to give us her condolences, I took care of her mother in hospice years ago,funeral home staff came and went.
Mary and I helped move our aunts body onto the stretcher and Mary buckled her in one last time. Safety first you know.
Yesterday she and I met with the funeral home and made the simplest plans. No wake, no viewing. Inexpensive casket and no reason to dress her in new clothes. Her PJ's would serve her just fine, the suit will go to someone living who can put it to better use.
Tomorrow will be phone call day. Medicare, The VA, her pharmacy, etc etc... Tuesday and Wednesday I expect we'll be cleaning her apartment and diving her belongings into those well known boxes marker To Keep, To Throw Away, To give Away.
On Thursday we will gather in the same cemetery her parents and one of her sisters, the one who never grew up due to Down Syndrome, the same sister my Aunt dedicated her life to, are buried. The service will be facilitated by us, her family as she had not developed a relationship with any clergy or priest since she left the Chicago area.
We will share some prayers, some stories and then as is routine for this O'Shaughnessy family we will sugar coat things with a little pie and coffee.
On Friday, the day I most often made my visits to her, I expect I will feel lost. I won't have any laundry to do or meds to pick up or bills of hers to pay. Not that there was that much anyway. She lived a simple life. She would only let us do a few pieces of clothing at a time, a little housekeeping each week. But still, my routine that is Bernie is now gone and what I will really miss is the way she called my GK's "honeybun", they way she always worried about my workload, the way she rarely complained.
My Aunt was amazing. She turned down the proposal of man she loved deeply knowing she would be needed to care for her sister Teresa. She felt if she married she would not have enough time, energy and emotion to care for a husband the way she felt men deserved to be cared for. But while caring for her sister and her father until his death, she also stayed involved in all of our lives.
She taught me about family finances. If a sibling of hers needed help she gave it freely.
She taught me manners. (Those lessons haven't always stuck with me)
She taught me that working hard was expected and not necessarily something to be rewarded
She taught me that obligation to family was a privilege, not a burden
She taught me to give more than I take (another skill still in the works)
She taught me to laugh at myself.
She taught me humility.
She taught me about Christs love in the way she loved so many others.
She wasn't perfect. She could be sharp tongued and opinionated. She loved to argue, especially about the taboos topics, like politics, religion. She got furious if she heard me being mouthy to my parents.
She was bossy and pushy and stubborn and if my kids are reading this they now know where I picked up those attributes.
She was also the very best aunt in the world.