Somewhere north almost a thousand miles from here, a family is preparing to say goodbye to someone wonderful. Our phone had rung and the words, "Your aunt is in Heaven now," held us speechless as we sat listening. We had been awaiting News ever since the word 'Stroke' had stopped us in our own tracks.
Did I say she is wonderful? It is true! I think of Vera with a perpetual smile on her face. She never met a person she did not like, and welcomed any and all upcoming new spouses into the family immediately. I was one of these, gathered into a huge hug at our first meeting. Smiling and hugging - that has always been Vera. Oh - and laughing, always laughing.
You saw this quality also in her children, my husband's cousins. It was largely due to Vera's sweetness that her closest loved ones adopted this same broad acceptance. It sort of leaked on down, from her. Her family gatherings have always been filled with jolly people - from tiny babies to toddlers, to young and healthy teens running around everywhere, to parents young and older, not to mention the friends everybody had. Those, too, were welcomed.
And so they, and we, say our farewells. Someone mentioned kindly, "She is gone, but not forgotten..", which is utterly true. No one could forget Vera, who was everything a person would wish to remember. Recently her family gathered around her, holding her hands as the gentle Hospice ladies ministered. Reaching for a single word that could describe her, a loved one said, "Unconditional. That is what she was. Perfectly and thoroughly Unconditional."
We love you, Aunt Vera. This Farewell is not forever.