A Smile Before Tears
Her name was Jennie. Or more properly for me, Aunt Jennie.
She was Mom's older sister, one of eleven kid's to Sabo and Tillie, their mom and dad. Yes, a big family, not all that uncommon back there in the 'old day's'.
And Jennie was the last, the last of the eleven, the last that we all who loved her could go and visit. I don't know, maybe that makes it a little more sad for me, and in a strange unexplainable way, a little more special.
Aunt Jennie passed away over the weekend at the age of 94. She wasn't the youngest in her family but she lived longer than any of the others. She lived longer than the man she loved with all her heart, Uncle Hank. But she wasn't alone. Thank God, she wasn't alone at all!
You see, Aunt Jennie was one of those people that, when you met her, you liked her. And there was a very good chance you were going to love her. She was a member of what has been famously called 'The Greatest Generation', a term I've come to totally agree with. It might be that my parents were a part of that generation, but I know this: I grew up with that 'Greatest generation' all around me and though as a kid I didn't realize it, I've found it was true.
They were, in every sense of the word, a great generation.
Aunt Jennie lived all her life close to home, close to family and life long friends. Now, at my....uh...somewhat advance age, I realize what a blessing that was, both for Jennie and those around her. She was exactly where she was supposed to be at exactly the time she was supposed to be there.
I went to Aunt Jennie's Memorial service this week. There were so many people there, so many cousins and so many people I didn't know, but who loved this lady like I did. Aunt Jennie's kids were there, and and their kids and Grandkid's, too.
And there were tears. We looked at picture's and shared memories, all those memories that bend so warm. How can I say it: It was sad and happy, all wrapped into one.
They're gone now, my parents and all their many brothers and sisters. All those beloved Uncle's and Aunt's that would gather at Thanksgiving or Christmas or at a park for the summer family reunion. All those men and women that would play bean bags or horse shoes, who would lay out hot dishes and pies and pitchers of kool-aid. They're all gone.
But of course, they're not gone at all. Aunt Jennie isn't gone either. She just joined her mom and dad and brothers and sisters and they live here now, in my heart, and in the heart's of her family and friends.
And there's one more thing I know. When Aunt Jennie's closest family thinks about her, there's tears. But there will come a day and soon, that when Jennie is thought of, there will first be a smile, a smile before the tears.
Because those of us who were blessed by knowing this remarkable lady will realize how fortunate we were.