It's the 5th anniversary of my Aunt Faith's death. I remember her being as feisty as could be, and told it like it was while she was still able to talk. She didn't mind disciplining her nieces and nephews when she thought they needed it. Apparently I needed a lot of disciplining. I was at the other end of her wagging index finger too many times to recall.
She and her husband, my uncle Dick, were quite a team. They loved to dance, enjoy good company and good food. They seemed to always enjoy each other's company the best, although they eagerly welcomed others into their home and effortlessly blended them into the clan.
Uncle Dick went to the nursing home to feed and look after Aunt Faith two times a day, every day until she died. He must have had the patience of Job, because it would take hours for her to eat a meal, and then it was time to start all over again. The nursing home staff loved Aunt Faith.
As we were remembering and celebrating Aunt Faith's life, it became clear that her parents picked the perfect name for her. It turns out Aunt Faith had to exercise a tremendous amount of faith in her lifetime. I wasn't around for her early years, but I do know that she grew up on a struggling farm during the depression. And her mother was ill, which required Aunt Faith to be a caregiver to her own mom and her younger twin sisters, while still a child herself. All of this she managed, while doing her farm chores, going to school and finding ways to make things nice for her younger twin sisters.
Aunt Faith and Uncle Dick's two daughters, Connie and Nancy, were diagnosed with Crohn's disease as young women. They both lived fulfilling and accomplished lives for more than two decades in spite of unimaginable health issues. The girls ultimately died within 3 months of one another. Ironically, Aunt Faith and Uncle Dick lost a son-in-law in that timeframe as well. That was well over 10 years ago.
I never once remember Aunt Faith feeling sorry for herself or complaining. She and Uncle Dick were a huge part of the support system for both daughters. They made it possible for their daughters to live fairly normal lives. There were lots of hospital stays and many life or death moments for both daughters. They lived on the edge for years on end.
In spite of those circumstances, Aunt Faith always seemed to have a positive, can-do attitude. Aunt Faith's glass was always half full, and she invariably found ways to cheer others up, no matter what was going on in her life. She was there for others in a big way. Aunt Faith believed that you cannot afford a single negative thought.
I eventually grew to realize that if I could exercise just a tiny bit of the positivity and faith that I saw modeled by my Aunt Faith, life would be pretty wonderful. And, it surely was a wonderful life. Our family learned a lot from Aunt Faith about living and loving. We miss her, but we are pretty sure she is enjoying some quality time with her own daughters now.