As I've grown up, our family times at the farm have been treasured times of laughter, music and fun. We would play games, do puzzles and play duets on the piano. Aunty Rita would put on the loveliest of spreads - full turkey dinners, pies and desserts, meat and cheese trays, crackers, olives! She was the best hostess!
When Uncle Omer died, I found myself drawn to her... we spent lovely afternoons sharing lunch, talking as women... as friends. She shared her heartaches, and drew me out of mine. She talked to me about her hopes and dreams, and I shared mine. We connected on a level I wouldn't have anticipated and it was a comfort to me and an unexpected blessing.
As this past summer came to an end and autumn began, she was very ill. I considered it a privilege to visit her every other week for several months. She lit up when she saw me, she hugged me fiercely and cried on my shoulder. It was not a sign of weakness to me, but a sign of deep trust and friendship that we had cultivated. She was my friend. I loved her dearly.
Sunday was our last visit. She didn't talk, and didn't open her eyes more than once. She gripped my hands tightly, though, and I knew in my heart she knew I was there and was happy I was. I sang, "the Lord bless you and keep you... the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious, gracious, gracious to you, the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you, give you, give you peace". She is at peace now.
Aunty Rita, if you never knew, I hope you know now how much you were treasured. How much you were loved. Your friendship to me was incredible and I will never forget our visits, your kindness, your openness and your love. You have left a beautiful hole in my heart. You will never be forgotten.