I just returned yesterday from a trip "home" (where I grew up) to the San Francisco Bay Area to visit with some family and friends.
One reason for the trip was to visit my Aunt who is on her deathbed. She was a great mentor to me, particularly in high school and was interested in everything good. She nurtured my interest in family history and faraway places. Her home is filled with photographs of her large family and her small yard is filled with potted plants that she took great care of - including a beautiful Bonsai tree!
I wouldn't have recognized her on the street - she is so thin and frail now, missing her trademark glasses and librarian-style glasses chain. She does not open her smiling eyes any more. She sleeps most of the time. I did not hear her friendly voice. She wears a small scapular around her neck as she lies in the hospital bed in her home. I recognize a crucifix lying on her chest that has been touched to the bones of the Jesuit martyrs - this has been in our family for many years.
We were there on her 74th birthday - from all over the world. Her son from Indonesia where he is working to provide clean water to the locals; children and grandchildren, siblings and several nieces. We met at her house, ate her favorite foods, looked at old photographs, talked and laughed. Children ran around the house in pirate costumes and wrestled in the front yard. They were in and out of her room saying hello and goodbye. We lit the candles on the birthday cake and brought it into her room. We all sang happy birthday. The children blew out the candles and we all cried.
And I said to my brother-in-law as we left the house that night ...
All is as it should be.
My Aunt Theresa Mary Ainslie died the following day - May 18, 2005. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.