This week I lost my dear great aunt Eleanor, aged 92. A fighter to the end, she had surgery to remove cancer of the ovaries and was not able to recover. It was sad to say goodbye but as she emphasized, she had many happy years together with her husband John.
During our conversations over the years, I asked Eleanor, “what’s your secret.” She passed on her wisdom to me, advising me to take life as it comes and not to worry, to laugh everyday and to think positive. My dear aunt set an example that I would like to emulate, gracing her family and friends with her bright and gentle spirit.
I knew Eleanor my whole life but usually from a distance as we always lived in different cities. As I grew up and my grandparents passed away, we didn’t see much of each other but I sent a Christmas card every year and she always wrote me back. Over the last several years, we grew closer and kept in touch during the year with phone calls and letters.
We visited them a few years ago during one of our holidays. Eleanor and John were one of the happiest old married couples I have ever seen. They were truly meant for each other although it was a second marriage for both.
Since then, John became sick with bone cancer although she never mentioned it to me until earlier this year. Today he is in hospice care, and I’d like to believe it won’t be long until they are together again.
I had a good visit with Eleanor last week before the surgery. She knew there was a chance that she might not survive it and she had all the arrangements in place for what comes next — no funeral, but a big party at her house in the Interior.
I sat with my aunt in the ICU at the hospital during her last hours along with other family members. John could not be there of course, so they said their tender goodbye on the phone. She passed on bravely and peacefully, surrounded by the people she loved.
I was blessed to know Eleanor, and I will miss her dearly. And so I will say one last time the prayer I have been saying with my son each night for many months, “God bless Auntie Eleanor and Uncle John.”<