It was a beautiful service. There was a perfect balance of missing her and remembering her that I would hope would be present at my own funeral. The most touching part were the tributes people read about Cindy. The way each of her friends and family described her had many common words like beauty, grace, patience, kindness and humor. I enjoyed the funny stories told even though my eyes filled with tears. The tributes made me wish I had had the courage to write one, stand up, and read it.
As I thought about this later, I realized that though I am a terrible public speaker (and I mean terrible, I often laugh hysterically out of pure nervousness) I do have one outlet that has been working for me for almost 5 years...my blog. This I can offer. This I can give.
Cindy married my mom's youngest brother, Frank. My sister and I were in their wedding when I was 7 years old, Hannah's age. I don't remember much about it from experience, but I have heard many stories about how my 5 year old sister put on quite the performance pulling up her tights up and shaking her finger "No" at my mom as my mom tried to get her to stop. For some brides this would have been a disaster to have at their wedding, but Aunt Cindy thought it was a riot, retold the story, and laughed about it for years to come.
When they had three beautiful girls, I babysat for them until the family moved to Virginia. Then I just saw them at Christmas and sometimes in the summer. Their three girls were in my wedding as junior bridesmaids. It wasn't until I moved out of Texas that I got to spend more time with my aunt and uncle. We have had the pleasure of stopping in for visits on our way back and forth between Texas and Germany. The kids always loved to visit them, and not only because Uncle Frank always put on movies and gave them way too many sweets, although I am sure that helped. Aunt Cindy always had creative and fun activities for them to do. Whether it was a home-made play-dough volcano, well thought out crafts, or a spur of the moment taped on mustache.
By far the most memories we have with Cindy are from the last year and a half when we have lived close to them. Cindy and I shared a love for children and arts and crafts. We had many great conversations over the years. She was always so fun to be around and had a great sense of humor. I have always been impressed at how my uncle and her raised their three girls. They've become great young women and I am proud to have them as role models for my girls. Even better than all that Cindy was to me was all that she was to my kids. They have never had a grandmother live close by and Cindy filled the role of surrogate grandmother very well since we moved here. She and my uncle took the kids for craft days and even a whole weekend before Drew was born so Brian and I could go on a vacation alone for our tenth anniversary. During the summer that we moved to the area, while I was still in TX with the kids, Cindy would come over all day while Brian was at work and set up my whole kitchen, the bathrooms, and helped unpack much of our boxes, and she would come grocery shop for me when we first moved in. Before she got sick, Cindy came out to visit sometimes during the week when I needed help with the kids like when I had to paint the living room or go to the dentist. She and my uncle came to the kids' birthday parties and had us over for dinner all the time.
I am especially thankful for this last Thanksgiving. That is really the last time she was her usual self. She bought new serving pieces, set up the tables so beautifully, and had wonderful crafts for the kids to do that day. That was when the kids made the Indian costumes out of pillowcases. She set up such a cute kid's table for them. And then there was the Advent boxes she spent so much time pulling together for the kids. These are great memories, but they are not without the pain of realizing she is gone and it was the last Thanksgiving with her.
The whole time she was sick, I wished that I could be more helpful to her. I love through service, and it killed me that because of being pregnant, having a newborn, and homeschooling I wasn't able to help her out more. However, I was so blessed by her friends and family at the visitation and memorial services. First, one of her really close friends that flew in for the services came up to me and told me how much she loved my kids and how well behaved they were. Cindy had been so glad we moved close. She told me that Cindy had said, "This is what grandchildren must be like." She told me that I gave her a gift, that my kids were a gift to her since she never got to see her own grandchildren. I can't tell you what that meant to me. I was still thinking about this when someone else came up to me and said something to the same effect. For the two days more people than I can count told me the same thing more or less, that she loved my kids and thought of them as grandchildren. And I can't help but think that my Aunt Cindy was blessing me and comforting me even after her death. What an amazing woman and a wonderful life.
My aunt, three cousins, and uncle
My aunt, three cousins, and uncle