Monday, June 15, 2009

My Aunt Paula

~ My eulogy from my aunt's service  ~

When I stop and think, I wonder if at our best, we are a conglomeration of those we admire most. If that’s the case, at mine, many of my aunt’s qualities come forward. 

As a child, I lived with my mom and would visit my dad during every break throughout the year. My aunt, uncle and cousins lived a few sticks and a pile of rocks away. And when that truck door swung open, you better believe that’s where I was headed. 

Looking back, I realize, my aunt and uncle were gracious enough to not only have three kids of their own, but an additional many in my brothers and me too. Their house was the hub, the grand central station of Tahoe - through rain, shine, sleet, and shouting - we were little, loud, and in charge. And they… the providers of the best childhood a girl could ask for.

From a young age, and I believe without knowing, my aunt Paula was already showing me what it was to be an aunt. She was working her magic, sprinkling a little here, and some there. In my own life, I sometimes rise greatly, but often times… can’t compare. Always though, I use her as my measure. 

As I’ve grown, there are pieces of my heart which I think, hmmm, this must be Paula. I share a great love of animals with my aunt and uncle.

This past year, there’s nothing I loved more than seeing my aunt on her property. As she dart from one recently completed project to the next projected, she radiate from the inside out. With a smile on her face, hands in the air, and five beautiful dogs in tow, she had a way of bringing me into her vision.

Once in the house, their two cats would join us, and in an animal kingdom like fashion, all seven sweeties would share in her space. And to my aunt - there’s no place she would rather be. 

Paula’s love of animals was far from typical and extended beyond into a deep, uneasy, and sometimes pain induced love. She used her thoughts of animal suffering as a guide for her eating habits. I trace my own internal struggles and wonder if she too influenced them; most likely.

My aunt, the giver of all she’s got. From when I was little, she’s treated me like her own. If we were out shopping, she was sure to send me back to Tahoe with clothes of my own. When it came to the purchase of homes, she refused her commissions. When I protested, she looked me straight in the face and said, “Well then you better find a new realtor.” 

These are the very things I will remember most - being seen…thought of… loved… and included. This was a gift my aunt gave to those around, whether they were with her for a minute, or a lifetime.

Paula was always one phone call, or lunch date away. But the true gift was in how she listened to my words and empathized without trying to fix the unfixable. Something I to this day am working on.

We recently decided to move to Lake Tahoe. She was out of her skin excited for us. She knew that’s the very place I left my heart and moving back was all I ever wanted. 

Paula and I were in awe over how everything fell perfectly together in tying up the old and bringing us into the new. Little did I know a hidden track was playing in the background? We will forever be grateful for all the extra time we spent with her this year.

We were lucky enough to have Bob and Paula stay the night with us in October. During their visit we went on a long walk through the forest. She and I talked about life, death, and the visions and dreams she’s had about our daughter who passed away this last year. We talked about what we thought may happen after we die and about how grateful we are for every moment of every day. We laughed, and of course cried too. As we continued on our path, I thanked her for both shaping my childhood, and helping to contribute to my love of Tahoe. This is one of the main conversations we had, which now brings a sense of peace. For that I am grateful.

When my husband Dave and I look around our house and the surrounding area, everything holds new and different meaning. It’s stronger… and more important. Everywhere I look, I feel my aunt’s presence; I can feel her love. I’m surrounded in it. I’m thankful to have known someone as kind and beautiful as her. And…Im grateful to her for bringing me home… before she was brought home herself.


  1. I love this, Jen. I didn't realize you posted it...for someone reason it is showing up as a post from June of 2009?

  2. Thank you. I wish I would have kept the longer edit so you could have at least read it. It was so hard to continuously cut. I could have written volumes!

    I needed to create a page in my blog to link to, so I just went to the beginning. I recently got a note from one of my blog readers who sent a prayer through for your mom and dad. So very sweet. People amaze and inspire me.