When January rolls around, I give some cursory thought to the past and coming years, but in reality my yearly clock has always revolved around the school year—for I’ve never quite moved beyond that childhood frame of mind.
This school year has been a good one, and it seems to be flitting right by; but for my extended family, it’s been a year of goodbyes.
Two of my uncles have bid farewell to this world and exchanged it for another much better. And, as I write this evening, a dear aunt, too, is looking beyond this realm—beyond the world we know and grasp most sincerely.
This is an aunt I grew up close to. I remember nights spent in her attic upstairs at sleepovers with cousins. There were summer nights lounging lazily on her front porch, and always hearty country meals.
There were loud older boy cousins who watched wrestling on TV with my uncle and wrestled around on the floor—something my sisters and I (without older brothers) could not understand.
One night, years ago, we stopped by Aunt Ruth’s on our way home from a trip to Michigan. She showed us her quilts she had made in that upstairs that held so many childhood memories for me. My young and impressionable children were awestruck by the narrow, steep stairs and talked for days about the big supper she’d made us and the cool upstairs they all got to sleep in.
I think perhaps only now that I’m a mother of grown children and nieces and nephews do I realize what pleasure we had brought to her by stopping by for even just a night.
I come from a very large extended family and have always thought it sad for those who don’t because of what they miss. For all those aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents have always been an anchor for me for as long as I can remember.
We were not a perfect lot for sure, but there was always more than enough love to go around and a deep rooted belief in a good God who sent His Son to save us.
Someday, I too, like Aunt Ruth, will loosen my grip on the familiar of this world—and release my fingers as I find the courage to set my gaze on a world yet unseen—a world I know is filled with love.