I can hear in my head what my Aunt Terri would say seeing this- “Hmmph…you don’t need to do that!!”
She was a humble woman. She was a woman who didn’t require and rarely received thanks for the many things she did to help others. She was that mom who always put everyone else’s needs well ahead of her own. In a family chock full of strong-willed and overly opinionated women, she was the peacekeeper, the gentle one.
When I was barely able to walk, I managed to pull down a wooden chair on top of myself. It landed directly on my face, literally splitting my nose from my lip. I had to have surgery on my then tiny face and to keep my toddler hands from ruining their handwork, I had to have my arms strapped down crucifixion style, out to the sides. I was a baby, had just had surgery, was in a strange place and was apparently wailing like no other. I was inconsolable, until that is that my Aunt Terri realized what I was missing most- my thumb. I was a fierce thumb-sucker practically until I went to preschool and had been since the womb. I had little white marks on my arms and hands when I was born where I had sucked in utero. Since my thumbs were out of my reach my aunt sucked one for me and I was immediately calmed and asleep in no time. She did it for me every single night I was in the hospital.
I was told that story a million times growing up and I know it is the reason I never once questioned my aunt’s love for me. I was her sister’s child, the first girl of the next generation and no matter the distance between us as I grew up, she would always, always love me.
When I was home visiting my Grandmother last year, my aunt met up with us while we were out at a mall. I hadn’t seen her in many years, but as soon as her arms were around me I could immediately feel that intense love, just as I had when I was a little girl.
The last time I saw her, she was walking across the mall parking lot waving and yelling to me and my grandmother “Love you, bye!” over and over. This is my family’s signature departure line whether you’re on the phone or in person. We never part without saying it to one another.
It would be just months later that she would be diagnosed with cancer. She would survive a surgery the doctors never thought she would, go through round after round of chemo and endure countless radiation treatments over the next painful 18 months.
She passed away peacefully this Sunday morning.
Terri was and will always be a beloved daughter, sister, wife, aunt, mother, grandmother and friend. She will be missed by all those who benefitted from having her in their lives and I’m beyond grateful to have been one of them.
Love you, bye, Terri. Love you, bye.