A while ago I wrote a post about my aunt and going to her house in the desert and what was happening and what would happen when she was gone. Well, this week she is gone. She passed away last Saturday morning and I was asked to give a eulogy. I’ll tell you, this was the hardest thing I have ever written. I decided to just post the whole thing instead of trying to rehash it. This is the first post. Read it here.
It seems almost everyone knew her as Aunt Nora. She was a woman hard to define in just a few words, and I don’t know that we will ever know the real extent of her contributions to the world.
We are gathered here today in one of her favorite spots on the planet; this little white church. I can feel her even now, looking down on us, coaxing each of us to hold to our faith, no matter the denomination. Her faith in the Lord never wavered in all of the years that I have been alive, and I believe it was never stronger than when she had this entire church join in with her praying for a miracle for my daughter. That miracle was realized when Amelia got her kidney transplant. It has shown me the power of applied faith, and group prayers, and leaves no doubt to the mercy of our Heavenly Father.
Since then, we have been down here, and joined her in this very church, thanking the Lord for his grace and mercy. Nora never wavered in her belief in the Almighty. She knew without question His love and grace. Now that she has returned home to our Father, I know that she is happy. She is where she always knew that she would end up.
They asked me to talk a little about what I remembered of Aunt Nora. Well, she was always there, always so permanent. She was my Dad’s aunt, my great-aunt, and my kids’ great-great-aunt, but she always seemed a bit more like Grandma. She was one of the strongest, most stubborn people that I have ever known. Life never seemed to get her down for long, she always rolled with whatever life gave her, and came out even stronger at the end.
She always had a story about either overcoming adversity, or making the best with what you had. She has told us countless stories of growing up in Indiana, helping to raise her brothers and sister, and having a home filled with love.
She was an inspiration to my family as we began to learn to overcome the obstacles that life throws at us. She always told us that we just had to have faith in the Lord, and he would take care of us. I know that this is true. She has helped to teach us about growing our own garden, and cooking everything from scratch. She was always more than excited to hand off a recipe or a little trick to get vegetables to produce more, or to save the fruit trees from bugs.
Her home is covered with pictures and mementos of her life. It is like a museum dedicated to her family. There are so many people in those pictures that I don’t know, but she knew them all. She could tell a story about every person in every picture. Many times that was all she wanted for Christmas or her birthday, was more pictures of the family.
My kids loved to come down to Aunt Nora’s. She gave them the rock hound bug and now they don’t go anywhere without picking up rocks and hoping for a treasure. I got that bug early as well. I can remember lots of times we would go picnicking in the mountains around here and come home with a bucket of rocks to polish.
She was the last of what I always thought of as the “older generation” on my Dad’s side of the family. Now, all we have left of that generation is memories of those who grew up without television, cell phones or the internet. There is a break in the history now, and I have to remember what Nora taught me of her generation, from their history, to their exploits, to their epic hunting trips, to their working conditions in the mines, and of times when life was much simpler. Times when siting on the patio and talking was prime entertainment.
I feel privileged to have known my Aunt Nora for my nearly 40 years. I am glad that my 4 kids knew her. I am glad that they are old enough to have heard some of those stories as well as learned some of the values and sensibilities of her generation that seem so old fashioned and worn out now. I try really hard to keep some of those values alive and not let my kids become like what much of the world is becoming nowadays.
This world will not be the same without Nora. I don’t know exactly how many people were blessed by her influence over these past 92 years, but I am sure the list is long. The good that she brought into this community, and to this world will never be forgotten. Years from now Nora will be remembered by the people that she came in contact with, and those who they came in contact with and so on.
I know that she is finally, completely at peace. She has been welcomed to Heaven and has been reunited with her family that has gone before her. I really wish I could have seen her smile when Jesus opened the gates for her and said, “Welcome Home Nora, I am well pleased.”
Farewell to the last
You’ve had more life than most will ever, Your book of deeds is full,
From rocks to mail, from fish to deer, Your life is now come whole.
For Jesus welcomed you this week, With his sweet and open arms.
He has watched you from afar, And knows of all your many charms.
Much more to us you ever were, Than just a simple Aunt,
A teacher, friend, a grandmother too, who never said “You can’t.”
You’ve told us all the stories, That we did hunger for,
And prayed with us for guidance, Then showed us so much more.
The things you knew that no one else, Remembers now today,
You passed on to us on the porch at night, To ever guide our way.
You kept your head up, Through trials and troubles too,
You kept your faith and remembered well, That Jesus would see you through.
And now this life is over, The next in Heaven starts,
Where you’ll be teaching others, To keep the Lord close in their hearts.
I’d love to’ve seen your face, When Jesus welcomed you home,
And said, “Welcome Nora my dear, dear, one, You’ve nowhere else to roam.”
We will greatly miss you here, Upon this mortal coil,
Yet feel your spirit watching o’er us, As we finish with our toils.
Rest well my dear Aunt Nora, In our hearts you’ll always be,
Rest with those you love in Heaven, We will always remember thee.
We’re going to miss you Aunt Nora, we will never forget you.