Yesterday, I found out that you had passed away. For the past two years I have known that one day this would happen but that doesn’t make it any easier. You have taught me so many lessons. The main one being that you don’t have to be related to be family, which is why my siblings and I affectionately called you, “Auntie Pat”.
I am the eldest of my siblings but you were our family far before even I was born. Your husband ,”Uncle Chuck”, was our dad’s college football coach. While most people say goodbye to their teachers upon graduation, you two stuck around and became closer to my dad, uncle, and grandma. I don’t really know the details because I wasn’t born yet but I am really glad you stayed a big part of their life because you became a big part of my life as well.
Like most childhoods, mine was full of change. There was only one constant, your cheerful disposition and smile. I have never heard you say anything remotely negative. When something good happened at school you were there to congratulate me and when something bad happened… Well, I don’t really remember what you did because you had a way of turning bad things good. Anyway, you were there when I was accepted to boarding school, you saw every single production I was in, you wiped my tears during my parent’s divorce and grandmother’s death, you were our anchor when family members got sick, you were there to party with me at my wedding and you were so happy when my daughter Amelia was born. I think that made you the proudest because you adore kids.
Three weeks ago my daughter got to meet you. It was such a big deal to me. I felt so blessed that even though you were sick and in pain you attended our friend’s wedding. It was so fun for everyone to party with you one last time. For me, it was so special for my daughter to meet her great grandmother. I was very nervous that Amelia would cry in the middle of the ceremony because it was her first wedding. Luckily, you were there to give me veteran mom advice.
The next day you showed up at my house with tons of gifts for Amelia, including the dancing flower pictured above. You were very tired from the wedding and in so much pain but despite all that you went to the store and got a ton of toys for my 17 month old child. If I had to describe you in one sentence it would be that: A woman who after two years of chemotherapy and 3 weeks from dying wakes up early to get a baby toys.
I am 28 and in good health. Yet, even on my best days I don’t posses half of your positivity.
Over fifteen years ago, I got a big part in the middle school musical. It was a big deal because I was only a 7th grader. My grandma told me she was so proud of me and knew I would be great in the role. She passed a week later and never got to see me in the musical. I wanted to quit so badly because I missed my grandma and couldn’t focus on anything. You encouraged me to stay in the production because in your opinion I was the funniest girl in school and no one could play the role like me. I listened to you. After my opening night performance you came up to me and told me how proud my Grandma would be of me, which is still to this day the best compliment I can receive.
You must have picked up on that because from then on after every major performance or accomplishment you told me over and over how proud my grandmother would be. When you met Amelia you told me my grandma would be so proud and then you told me that my daughter looks just like my grandma. Wow, Pat you really know me well because that is now tied for the best compliment I can receive.
You were my third Grandma and now that you’re gone I don’t have anyone to tell me that my Grandma would be proud of me.
Luckily, after years of you telling me how special I am, I am finally starting to believe it myself. I really miss you. But in honor of you, I am going to adopt your optimistic attitude and be happy that you aren’t in any pain anymore. Now when something really good or bad happens to me I will just imagine that you are up in heaven talking to my other two grandmas about how proud I make you.