My Aunt Dolores was my father’s older sister and my godmother. She was there for me since my birth into natural and supernatural life. She even taught my fourth grade CCD class.
Because my extended family is tightly knit and enjoys being in one another’s company for whatever reason we can come up with, I saw Aunt Dolores often; maybe too often. I perhaps took her presence for granted. Though she could be quite cantankerous, she was liberal in her praises of me, and there was nothing that she wouldn’t give if it was in her power to do so.
On January 19, she passed away after battling a second go-round of breast cancer. She was placed in hospice when it became evident that this time the cancer couldn’t be conquered. I was blessed to be able to spend an hour or so every evening with her the last week of her life. It was sitting with her there, just the two of us, that I began to reflect on the impact my godmother had on me.
My thoughts were many and varied. Some I will keep private. Yet I would like to share with you three important lessons Aunt Dolores impressed upon me as her life was ending.
First of all, my godmother taught me that marriage is sacred.
This may seem ironic since my aunt was divorced. When I was a young teen, my godparents decided they could no longer civilly live together, so they separated. In time, they got the government document that declared their marriage ended. My aunt never remarried and did the day-to-day raising of their three sons on her own.
She was adamantly against getting an annulment. She once declared to me that she may not have known what she was in for, but she knew well was she was doing when she married. In the few good times and the too many bad, my godmother, I believe, knew that she was in the eyes of God always married to my uncle until death. Though she did not voice this truth, through her steadfast example, my aunt taught me that the marriage vows are to be taken seriously.
Second, my godmother taught me that you always have time for a rosary.
Though she was self-exiled from the Church, Aunt Dolores remained faithful to Our Lady. She loved to visit the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in Emmitsburg, MD.
A week before her death, I received a call from my mother telling me to come quickly to the hospice, that my aunt was not doing well. When I arrived, my parents and cousin Bobby were praying the rosary. Though she looked weaker than the previous week, she appeared at peace. I was not sure why my mom had such an air of emergency about her. After the rosary, my mother explain how much more tranquil she became as they prayed together. On my way home from my visit that Sunday, I decided that I would say my evening rosary with her.
Truth be told, I had not been saying my rosary. Life can easily get hectic when you have nine children. All kinds of excuses can come up – dishes, meetings, laundry, exhaustion. But that week, I found the time, quite easily, too. I realized that if I could find an hour or so to drive there and back, say the rosary, and visit a little while with my aunt, then I could find 15 to 20 minutes every evening to spent time with Our Lady.
My aunt, I believe, through the communion of saints, still prays the rosary with me. I say mine for her and other intentions; she says hers for me and, I suppose, other intentions as well.
Finally, spending that last week with my godmother taught me that death is the great reminder of who we are and who God is.
Death may rob us of our strength, our pride, our abilities, even our bodies for a while, but it cannot rob us of our dignity as children of God. We alone can freely give that up. Yet death has a way of reminding us who we are – weak, frail beings, and who God is – our loving, eternal Father, our Savior and our Victory over death.
Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Copyright 2014 Kelly Guest
Photo above is of Kelly with Aunt Dolores.