Last Wednesday, our family suffered the loss of our Aunt Mary.  Since then I’ve been processing and having words in just about any sense has been challenging.  One of the harder things about getting older is losing those we know and love.  There have been family members that have passed in the past few years, but none that I’ve spoken to, much less seen, and certainly none that my children had a relationship with.  They not only knew of Aunt Mary, they knew Aunt Mary.  They love her and felt a bond to her immediately upon meeting her.  I think it’s because she was so similar in looks and spirit to my mother, her sister, their Grandma.  They didn’t take to just anyone the way they did to Aunt Mary right from the start.

I had to tell my kids their beloved Aunt Mary was gone.  They could clearly see I was upset and they’re old enough that we couldn’t sugar coat it.  They’d spent time with her and could see that she looked very different from her previous visits.  They could grasp that she had cancer and was very sick.  They understood she no longer had hair because of her treatment, and that it made her too weak to come swimming like they’d enjoyed with her just last summer. They prayed for her healing and believed it would happen.

My Aunt Mary Francis, was an inspiration who fought stage four pancreatic cancer for about a year before the disease took over. She was heroic in strength both before and during her diagnosis.  Before it she gave of her love and talents on a regular basis; crocheting amazing “prayer blankets” for anyone, including complete strangers to be a comfort during hard times.  Through it all, she remained positive and strong in spirit, never wanting anyone to feel sorry for her in any way.  Aunt Mary was a dream chaser till the end, taking up new hobbies such as crochet, buying her dream home and while it’s been a few years now, still had the glow of a newlywed from her walk down the isle with her dream husband.  She left here feeling full. In the last conversation I had with her, thin in frame, hairless, too weak to walk, and with a faint voice, she told me and my husband how very blessed she felt.  Amazing.


We in the family knew her time here on earth was winding down but nothing totally prepares you for that phone call.  I was equally unprepared for the reaction from my children learning the news.  I assumed there might be some squirming mixed with inappropriate laughter, as is often the way my daughter reacts to information she’s uncomfortable with.  I was ready for that.  I was not however ready for the immediate shock and gut-wrenching sobs that came from my babies.  It broke my heart, realizing that the only thing I could do was also best thing and just hold them, letting them know how sorry I was, how much I love them, and how much Aunt Mary loved them too.  We laid there, with them until they quieted down on their own.  We encouraged them to ask questions.  As I mentioned, they understood that she was very sick with cancer, they understood that people often die from this disease, and therefore understood that the cancer in her body, caused it to not work anymore.  We explained that she’s not in anymore pain, and that she is probably dancing or jumping in big beautiful pool in heaven like she did on her visit last June.  That made them happy.  The only question came from my son asking why God didn’t heal her like they had prayed for.  That’s always a hard one.  How do you explain the mysteries of God to a six year old, when you’re trying to grasp them yourself?  Luckily my husband is much better with words in those cases and gave an explanation that satisfied…for now.

We’ve left the door wide open for conversation if need be.  They seem to have a handle on things in a lovely way.  I suppose unintentionally sending more than a few back yard lizards home to be with Jesus, last summer helped give them clearer perspective of what it meant for a creature they loved and cared for to die.  It sounds silly to say, but when “Zippy” passed, they learned that their little friend wasn’t coming back and it was devastating to them.  There were many “Zippies” and many tears shed summer 2015.

We will miss Aunt Mary…her visits, fiery personality, and priceless one-of-a-kind creations, and we’ll do our best to live up to her example of strength and selflessness. In the bible it states how there are those who will get to heaven boasting of their mighty accomplishments on earth and Jesus will say, “Depart from me, I never knew you”.  I read that to mean, you can “do” all kinds of things in the name of good or God, but if your heart is not true or there’s no connection to the source of ALL that is good, it’s just “stuff done” more for your glory than anything else.  Aunt Mary, a woman who loved God, and quietly served people for no recognition or reward on earth, I believe, is getting it beyond measure in heaven.  I can only image the royal welcome she received for her service.  I’m grateful that even with her passing she managed to bring deeper a connection and sense of gratitude to my family.

We love you Aunt Mary.  Rest in peace, you warrior woman of God.




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