In Memoriam: A real story about true love

Posted: February 27, 2013 in General
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Aunt Janet and Uncle BillThree months ago my Great Uncle Bill suddenly passed away. His wife had had a massive stroke and was in the hospital under supervision. Uncle Bill went downstairs to get something out of his car when he collapsed in the parking lot. Despite still being near the hospital, no one could help him. He died right then and there. I can’t say it was much of a surprise. He was 78 years old and had struggled with heart conditions for a while.

Last week, on Friday, my Great Aunt Janet passed away, following in Uncle Bill’s footsteps. She had Alzheimer’s, and coupling that with the stroke and a bout of pneumonia, we knew it wouldn’t be too much longer.

But I’m not here to pine away about the loss of two people who were, quite literally, the pillars of my family. My family isn’t good at crying. We’re not good at sharing feelings. We’re not good at taking situations seriously. We laugh loudly and obnoxiously. We crack jokes during inappropriate times. We heal by remembering the good times, not focusing on the sad ones.

So, I want to tell you a love story. I want to tell you about my aunt and uncle. I want to share with you the wonder and amazement and brilliance that they brought to my life, in the hopes that, although they’re gone, their love can help others.

I’m not a mushy person. I’ll take an action movie over a rom-com any day of the week. I don’t like getting cards and flowers on Valentine’s Day. I don’t believe in love at first sight. Heck, I barely believe in True Love. Not the kind of fairytales, at least. Life just doesn’t work that way.

But if there was one couple, one pair of people on this entire planet, that could make me believe in True Love, it would be my Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill.

Aunt Janet was a fire-cracker. She was just a few years younger than my uncle and had fiery red hair. It was all natural, of course. She didn’t dye it. No, not once. 😉 She was as Irish as they came. Thick brogue and a sense of humor that could bring you to tears. She always acted younger than she was. And she loved unconditionally. She was a beautiful person.

Uncle Bill was a bit more laid back. He was an army man back in the day. He was tall, well built, and had a sort of aura about him that commanded your attention. But he wasn’t intimidating. He was like a second grandfather to me. He was the type of person that always asked you how you were and actually wanted to know the answer. He always had a minute to spare. He always listened, and listened well. And he loved unconditionally. He was a beautiful person, too.

My aunt and uncle met in America, shortly after my aunt came in from Ireland. I’m not sure of the exact story. I don’t need to know. The details are unimportant, though I do know it was love at first sight for my uncle. What is important, however, is that they were married for 51 years. They had two wonderful children, many grandchildren, and even a few great grandchildren. I’m sure they had their ups and downs, just like everyone else. It’s normal, but that doesn’t make their relationship any less perfect.

My uncle always said that once my aunt went, he wanted to follow right after her. There would be no point in living in this world without his soul mate. Every time I saw him, he would turn back to look at Aunt Janet and say, “I love her so much. I’m so lucky.” After 51 years of marriage, how many people still had that kind of relationship? In my family, unfortunately, it’s next to zero. We don’t have much luck there. But Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill defy the odds.

Aunt Janet was something else. She always had something witty to say, some wise crack and a wink in her arsenal. Even after she started getting Alzheimer’s, she didn’t change. Sure, she was a little quieter, and she’d repeat herself every now and then, but she was still Aunt Janet.

Aunt Janet: “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Me: *blushes* “No.”

Aunt Janet: “Smart girl.” *winks*

Ten minutes later…

Aunt Janet: “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Me: *blushes* “No.”

Aunt Janet: “Smart girl.” *winks*

My running joke was that at least she was consistent.

Uncle Bill worried a lot. He loved her so much, and she loved him right back. It was tough near the end, and in a way I’m glad they’re both gone, because wherever they are now, at least they’re together. They led a long, strong, beautiful, loving life. My family is a lot to handle, and considering they were the leaders of the family on my mother’s side for quite a few years, they did a pretty good job.

The biggest lesson they taught me, something that I’ll never forget, is to just love. It’s easy. It’s simple. It’s freeing. Just love. Everything will work out in the end. Everything will fall into place. It’s corny and silly and cliché, but all you need is love.

Because without it, everything else is meaningless.

But with it, you can do anything. You can defy the odds. Nothing can hold you back.

I hope that, however long I end up being on this Earth, I have just a tiny fraction of the happiness they had while they were here.

In loving memory of Aunt Janet and Uncle Bill.

You will be loved, forever and always. RIP.

  1. ddog13 says:

    This was very thoughtful, and I am sure that this post is very special to you. Thanks for sharing your story! God bless your aunt and uncle.

  2. Julie Glover says:

    What an absolutely beautiful tribute!

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