“No, life ain’t always beautiful
Tears will fall sometimes
Life ain’t always beautiful
But it’s a beautiful ride
Life ain’t always beautiful
Some days I miss your smile
I get tired of walkin’ all these lonely miles
And I wish for just one minute
I could see your pretty face
Guess I can dream, but life don’t work that way
But the struggles makes me stronger
And the changes make me wise
And happiness has its own way of takin’ its sweet time
No, life ain’t always beautiful
But I know I’ll be fine
Hey, life ain’t always beautiful
But its a beautiful ride”
Lyrics from “Life Ain’t Always Beautiful” by Gary Allan
There is a very special woman in my life that I am fortunate to call “Auntie”. No matter where I am in my life, no matter how long it has been since I have seen her, she always has the ability to lift me up with her huge smile and caring heart. I have always considered her to be one of the happiest people I know, and she is truly beautiful for her beauty shines from within.
Auntie Marj is also a very special person to my children. Whenever they are over for a visit, they are made to feel like the most important people in the whole world. To my Rylynn, she is super special for when I get busy with work, Ry would go to her auntie’s to spend the day. They would sit down for tea, colour pictures, play playdoh, make a craft and chat away like old friends. She is always begging me to visit Aunt Mar, and it was always the highlight of her day when we did. For my daughter Kalla, when Auntie Marj found out none of my immediate family would be home for her birthday party, she held the party at her house, complete with campfire and wiener roast. For my Jorah, who once said she loved the design of a Barbie dress, Auntie Marj designed and sewed her a similar dress of her own for Christmas. For my little man, Auntie Marj did all of our dance costume alternations and she would have him try on his costume and then make him feel like the most handsome young man in the world. She also had a stash of Archie comic books that he got to borrow! His favorite part of visiting at her house!
In June of this year, Ry and I headed over to, “Marj’s Garden”, my Aunt’s greenhouse business. I think it is Auntie Marj’s favorite place to be. Rylynn and I arrived and Auntie Marj got down with Ry as they examined nearly every flower in the greenhouse. Rylynn got a little watering can Auntie Marj kept on hand for her and “helped” her take care of the flowers. After a little while, Ry asked to bounce on the trampoline so I took her over while Auntie Marj worked with a customer. I climbed on with Ry and she started bouncing around, before long, Auntie Marj joined us. While Ry bounced between us, Auntie Marj and I stretched out on the trampoline beneath a beautiful blue sky. We laid there and chatted about anything and everything, we listened to the bird’s songs, the bees buzzing and just thoroughly enjoyed each others company. At one point, I sat up and said that I should get back and get to work, Auntie Marj patted my arm and said “no, this is where you need to be, sometimes this is just as important as working hard”. We laid there all morning, being as lazy as can be but feeling the richness of the beautiful morning together.
Somehow, she knew exactly what I needed – a morning in the fresh air, surrounded by the scent of her flowers and the love of a woman who enjoys my children as much as I do. It was an eye opener for me because I realized how little of this kind of time I had allowed in my life. Time to recharge my batteries, time to connect with someone whom I love dearly, and time to simply smell the flowers and just be. There were no worries, no pressing demands on my time, just the company of a dear friend and my daughter. That afternoon, after I headed home, I accomplished more on my to do list than I would have done all day because I was re-focused and relaxed.
My Aunt has been the one person in my life that has taught me this lesson. When my children were tiny babies, and I would spend the day just sitting and holding them, gazing at their smallness and newness, knowing that I should be doing something productive like cleaning my house, she would be the one that would point out to me that I was doing something more important. I was setting the stage for my child’s life by making them the most important thing in my world. She would always tell me that dust bunnies would still be there tomorrow, but my child would never be this tiny again. She’d encourage me to slow down, appreciate the beauty in what I had and accept that I did not have to take that moment away from myself.
Over the years, I often found myself sharing moments like this with her – on long nights when Brian was working, we’d spend a couple of hours on the phone chatting as my Uncle often works late too. Every time I spoke with her, I could hear the love and pride she had in her family, I could hear the happiness she found in her life regardless of what was going on in her life, and I could share with her the trials I was experiencing or the antics of my children. Even when she had something to complain about, it was shrugged off with a comment of “oh well, that’s life” and she’d move on. Auntie Marj had richness in her life, not in her bank account, but in her ability to accept that life was life, challenging at times but always able to provide joy if you just look for it.
As an adult, my Aunt has come to be a cheerleader to me, someone to share the challenges of raising children, someone who understood how much I love my family, she is the person I knew I could count on whenever I needed someone there, and she is the person that could reach me at my heart and help me to see how beautiful life really is, even when there are tears. Since moving back to Mannville, she has become so much more than my Aunt, she has become a really close friend.
On Christmas morning, after opening our gifts, we headed to Auntie Marj’s for a visit. The kids immediately devoured the treats she had baked for them and after filling her with stories of the treasures Santa brought, they headed off to the toy closet. Auntie Marj and I “caught up” and enjoyed sharing in Christmas cheer with our husbands. Two days later, on Dec 27, 2011, I got the devastating phone call that my Auntie Marj was gone from this earth.
Once again, I find myself in shock, my heart in pieces, tears in my eyes and having to break the sad news to my children that somebody so special can no longer be in our lives. I can’t answer their questions of “why” because I have them too. Why her? Why did I have to lose another person in my life who is so incredibly dear to me? How do I explain it to my three year old? The morning after Auntie Marj passed, Rylynn rummaged through her drawer and pulled out the shirt that Auntie Marj had given to her on her last birthday, she smiled as she put it on and told me that it was from her Aunt Mar. I could only smile at her through my tears because she doesn’t understand. Once again, I find myself sorting through a lifetime of memories and creating a slideshow that should showcase the heart of this woman. But how do I show what a morning laying on a trampoline means to me? How do I show what her life lessons meant to me? And why on earth did I not take more photographs of a person who meant as much to me as she did?
I know I will never find answers to these questions just as I know I will never hear her voice again. Through my tears this week, I am remembering her lessons to me and I am finding the beauty in her journey. Auntie Marj was truly a beautiful person. She has a heart of gold that will continue to touch me and my family throughout our lifetimes. While my heart breaks knowing that this person is no longer a part of our day to day lives, I know that I am truly blessed that I got to spend the time with her that I did. I am beyond blessed that she was my Aunt and that over the years, she became my friend. I may never have another cheerleader and role model in my life like I had in her, but nobody can ever take away the lessons and love she gave me while here on this earth. I can choose to take those lessons and pass them on to my children, and I will always know the richness that she brought to life. It has been another harsh lesson to me that life is precious, that I have to willingly choose to live each moment fully and I have to choose to seek happiness for only then will I find the richness that life can offer.
Godspeed my dear Auntie Marj, I know that you are now walking through gardens full of rich blooms watching over us. I pray that I find the strength in life to live as beautifully as you did.