It was a very difficult funeral today, bringing back so many memories.
When I was a little girl my dad used to weep at the grave of his mother, Laura, who I never knew personally, but through the hearts of her children, my dad, aunt Betty, Bella, Armand and newly departed Irene.
During the mass for the departed, a neighbor got up and told the story of what Irene was like. It rang home like a bell. Always in the garden, baking and serving her family and neighbors. A woman who liked people and loved art and her natural surroundings. She loved to laugh, and enjoyed children and pets. Roland and Irene won a contest dressed as Mr. and Mrs. Abraham Lincoln, I recall. My dad used to enjoy Halloween, too! Uncle Roland was always clowning around. They were from a generation that made their own fun, and rolled up their sleeves to help others in need.
The little tea cups and small breads and the comfort of home and family, were shared by all the siblings, as well as aunt Irene. Stephen's country wedding, with candles all over their beautiful home, was what you'd see in a Better Homes magazine.
I too received a Christmas decoration from her, (an angel), as I understand from the neighbor who spoke in church of the fond memories of my aunt, doing the same for others. My kids enjoyed her company, remembering that she came to family picnics with fish earrings on and a large straw hat, long jean skirt, always fanning herself in the heat and laughing contagiously, while complaining of the hot flashes to all the aunties.
Once, when the Beaver got into a car accident, she had my sister and I over to help occupy herself with business, of being a good auntie. She made us dollar size pancakes with syrup and with her huge heart, loved us to pieces. Then, there were the long country strolls and conversations.
The lady at church mentioned the penny candy, and, it all rushed back to me of how both she and uncle Roland were so welcoming. They took me to the beach for the first time, in Uncle Roland's bread truck. I can still see the whole family and all the white sand, everywhere. The family picnics and the family reunion of yesteryear, poured out today just like watching a video clip. Even remembered the little "mud hole" swimming parks, where we gathered as a family for picnics.
Karen, her only daughter embraced me in church, and I knew her heart was breaking. I remember to well the experience of losing my mother. The grand kids said it best, "they are all there together, missing us as much as we miss them, having one heck of a back-yard party". "And she's with Pepe'." The love of her life, Uncle Roland.
We know that everything will be alright now. If something needs fixing, Aunt Irene will see to it. She knew who Jesus was and now will behold His face.
Ninety-one years ago she was born to a tiny mother who had six siblings. Irene was between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds at birth, having much determination to live, having been placed in a shoe box behind the kitchen stove. She grew up amidst a vegetable garden with her father's prized strawberries, probably chasing after chickens. Later, after the return of Roland from the second world war, married and devoted herself to him and their children.
I spent many happy days on the huge swing in the back of the garage--does anyone else recall it, it was located just above her lovely garden? Remember the countless antiques that were stored over the garage stalls? Or the many walks we took up Paige hill and over Clemence hill? Who could ever forget the sledding in the winter, hot chocolate or cookies. We won't.
Courageously Dave and Stephen her sons, walked in front of her, together, down the isle to say their "so long for now" to a wonderful lady, their mom.
We are lucky, because we are the inheritors of a beautiful legacy of a loving family. We were reminded once again, that this world is a better place because of them, and because of her, by Fr. Peter Joyce.
Rest in peace, aunt Irene. You will be missed. And...May your memory be eternal.
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