Friday, June 22, 2012

Remembering my Aunt Barbara

As regular blog readers know, a few weeks ago Mike's beloved Aunty Gena died. And last week my Aunt Barbara died after a 10-year battle with melanoma and an all-too-swift decline toward the end of her life.

Back row (l-r): Grandpa, Ed, John, Bill, Jerry, Dad, Grandma, and me
Front (l-r): Judy, Barbara (circled), Donna, JoAnn, and Mom
My dad had five brothers, one who died as a small child. The rest of them all married and remained in the Pacific Northwest. The photo at left shows the five sons and their wives, with my grandparents and me as a toddler. Two of the brothers divorced and remarried, and their second wives quickly became part of the extended family.

My dad was the second-oldest surviving son, and Uncle John is the oldest. He married Aunt Barbara just a few weeks before my parents got married...in fact, 29 years later Uncle John and Aunt Barbara attended my wedding to Mike, which took place on their wedding anniversary (June 17).

At the last Christmas celebration she hosted
in her home, with my Aunt Terry
I was the oldest grandchild and the only one born when the photo above was taken. My dad was close to my Uncle John when they were growing up, and John and Barbara were my godparents.

They went onto have three children and three grandchildren. (The five sons had 11 children in total, all of whom still live in the Northwest near to the rest of the family.) When I was a child, all of the extended aunts, uncles, cousins, and our grandparents would gather to celebrate every child's birthday. As the family grew and we got older, that tradition ended. But we still got together for other major holidays.

After my grandma died in 1992, Aunt Barbara became sort of a matriarch of the extended family. Every year they hosted a huge Christmas gathering at their house, and the family always gathers at my Uncle Bill and Aunt Terry's house for Thanksgiving (and sometimes the 4th of July).

Being entertained by a young Kieran
Aunt Barbara taught school for over 30 years and she loved children, especially her grandchildren and grand-nieces and nephews. She had a warm, loving heart, and she loved her family with a passion. I will always remember her wonderful smile and dimples, the playful twinkle in her eye, and her love of fun. Her home was always brimming with hospitality, delicious food, and love.

Her memorial service on Wednesday was full of family (several of whom traveled from great distances so they could be there), friends, and former coworkers. She leaves behind a grieving family who will always remember her spunk and spirit. She fought cancer as hard as anyone could, because she loved her family so much she didn't want to leave them. Our extended family now has a big, gaping hole in it. We love and miss you, Aunt Barbara!


My brother, great Uncle Al (in his 90s!), and Chris at the memorial service

1 comment:

  1. Condolences on the loss of your beloved aunt. As an auntie myself with no kids, I truly value the connections I have with my nieces and nephews, and sounds like your Aunt Barbara did, too (although she had her own big family it sounds like). Cancer sucks.

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