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31 May 2017 @ 04:45 pm
Funeral For A Fallen Leaf  
Well this is me officially doing my first Dreamwidth/LJ crosspost. I wish it was under better circumstances. (I’m so glad I made that happy post about finishing my book, or I’d only ever be on here when someone was sick or had passed on, I swear.)

My great-aunt Kate passed away on Monday. She was 99. If you just thought, “What a great long life,” you are not wrong. And an amazing life to boot. Aunt Kate was the youngest of all of my greats on that side of the family. She is the last of that generation of my family to go, on either side. She was my maternal grandpa’s youngest sibling. He passed away in his early 70s of cancer, but my mom was close to Aunt Kate even after, so I was as well. She never married or had kids, but was everyone’s honorary mom or favorite auntie. Her sister married an alcoholic and Aunt Kate was the one to step in and help those kids when they needed, so after their mom died, they officially adopted Kate as their own. She lived here in town my whole life, until eight years ago, when she bought a house down the street from her niece a few towns over. They ran an antique shop and Kate helped out and as she aged, her niece made it possible for her to stay in her home and not go to a nursing facility. After her niece’s husband passed of cancer a few years back, she moved in with Kate and became a regular caretaker for her. At 99, Aunt Kate was able to pass away at home.

Our family is from Ireland and Kate took a good 3 or so trips over there to track down living relatives and find old gravestones. In a time when you couldn’t just go on the internet and find out who your family was, Kate did a full blown genealogy report on our family. She was self-taught - her job was at a phone company her whole life, so not in genealogy at all - and became so good at it that people began to hire her to do their families. In the research room at the library, right next to the elevator, every time we were there to get books, Aunt Kate was there too, working on a genealogy report. It’s a wonder my little brother didn’t think that was Aunt Kate’s house, that we just borrowed books from her. To be fair, her house was a library in and of itself. So many books about history and Ireland and Europe. Her house even smelled like a library. She had amazing self-taken photos of Ireland all around her house. She traveled the world and was a self-educated, free-spirited lady. I admired her and I am proud to say that of all the people in the family, I look the most like Kate!

She lived on the same side of town that we moved to when I was in high school and my parents divorced, so we always ran into her at the bank. I’d be there cashing my paycheck, on the way to buy us groceries, and she would always stop and check in with me. She would always say, “You know if you kids ever need anything…” like she knew how bad things were at home. I never did call on her, but it was a comfort in the back of my head to know if my brother and I were in too deep, we had someone to go to. When my mom and aunt opened a daycare for special needs kids, Kate gave them their inheritance early as an investment. When Mom bought her house down the street here, Kate paid to build the ramp. “Or else I’ll never be able to come see your new house!” she told Mom, when we both knew it was because she suspected Mom would need the ramp sooner rather than later.

My mom was just telling me how Aunt Kate was with her niblings - Mom and her generation as kids - the way my sister and I are with our niblings. She was always the one they made play with them. She said they always wanted to play Perry Mason and Aunt Kate always, always had to be the person who broke down and confessed they were guilty. She never got to be anyone else, but Mom says it’s because Kate was so good at it, she would throw herself into the crying and confessing like she had really done it! I love that story because it means, maybe, I am more like my Aunt Kate than I realized.

I loved her. I admired her. And I will miss her.

Lay down now, on the green rolling hills, and go home.


This entry was originally posted at http://dodger-sister.dreamwidth.org/231629.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
 
 
 
Shirebound: Sing Me Home - Baylorshirebound on May 31st, 2017 10:33 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us.

After her niece’s husband passed of cancer a few years back, she moved in with Kate and became a regular caretaker for her. At 99, Aunt Kate was able to pass away at home.</i/ That's utterly wonderful. It's what my brother and I are planning to do for our parents (both in their 80s).
dodger_sister: griefdodger_sister on January 7th, 2018 11:16 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing your wonderful memories with us.

Aunt Kate was so amazing & when I think about my book I am publishing, I am sad she isn't here to see it happen. I know she would've been so proud.

That's utterly wonderful. It's what my brother and I are planning to do for our parents (both in their 80s).

That is a wonderful commitment you & your brother are making. I hope you are able to, as it is the way anyone should go.

I know the day may come where my arthritis is too bad for my sister to keep me at home and we have discussed what I would want & where I would want to go in that case. But if at all, I would like to stay in our home. And at the least, if I go to a nursing home, then when the end comes, I'd like to come back to this house we share together, my true home, and do hospice here.

I saw how hard it was for Grandpa to spend the last few years of his life in a care home and how it wrecked my grandma to have to put him there. I am glad that, despite the last two years of being in and out of short term, rehab, hospitals, that my mom was still able to spend her very last summer at home, with Winston.
Kate: taking wingceitfianna on June 1st, 2017 03:11 pm (UTC)
She sounds like an amazing woman.
dodger_sister: griefdodger_sister on January 7th, 2018 11:17 pm (UTC)
She sounds like an amazing woman.

Aunt Kate was utterly wonderful & tbh, I think you two would have gotten so well. She would have adored you!
lindahoyland: Gingerboyslindahoyland on June 2nd, 2017 04:02 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Aunt sounded very special.
dodger_sister: griefdodger_sister on January 7th, 2018 11:18 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry for your loss. Your Aunt sounded very special.

Thank you. <3 Aunt Kate was amazing. She defied conventions at a time when that was so taboo. And she never lost her freedom. And for that, in and of itself, I admire her.
Ironlily - Making My Marquevikingprincess on June 5th, 2017 02:53 am (UTC)
Just reading through. I am sorry Kate has moved on; she sounds wonderful!

If you haven't added me on DW, please do. <3
dodger_sister: griefdodger_sister on January 7th, 2018 11:20 pm (UTC)
Just reading through. I am sorry Kate has moved on; she sounds wonderful!

Thank you, she truly was. <3 We knew the end was coming. Physically she wasn't doing too bad, but her mind was going, she was getting more & more confused. She never would have wanted to remain, if her mind was not, tbh.
bugeyedmonsterbugeyedmonster on June 9th, 2017 10:30 pm (UTC)
So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing stories about your aunt with us.
dodger_sister: griefdodger_sister on January 7th, 2018 11:22 pm (UTC)
So sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing stories about your aunt with us.

Thank you. <3

She was always sharing stories of others with us, she'd be delighted to have someone share these stories of her!