We all play many roles in life, sister, brother, wife, husband, doctor, lawyer, manager, director. . . Sometimes there are roles we want to play and other times their are roles we get to play. Taking care of a terminally ill loved one who may not be the best version of themselves due to pain, anguish and fear is not an easy role to play. My brother and his wife have taken care of my dear Aunt Angela with grace, love and humility. She passed away from pancreatic cancer in January.
My Aunt taught me so much, not just by words, but by effort and example.
Her biggest lesson to me -to give is to live and through giving we are truly living.
I feel blessed to have been able to spend time with her and to have been touched by her inspiration, passion and immense love for life. She gave freely of her time, her advice, her thoughts and her talent, energy and heart. The time she spent here with us was spent meaningfully and connected with our hearts and souls.
If she was needed, she showed up, fully armed with the research, willingness and incredible desire to be as helpful and encouraging and as compassionate as she could be. Whether it was with her career (she learned how to code at age 50 so that she could keep herself relevant and be helpful to the company she was working with) or it was through her mother’s dying days and her husband’s long and horrific bout with cancer. Aunt Angela continued to give even supporting my daughter who suffered a traumatic brain injury through long patient phone calls, letters and loads of love.
Aunt Angela would do the work and become knowledgeable in the best way to help and support those she cared about. Whatever she did, she was all in. No holds barred.
Without leaving out a detail she gave fully and with this giving she was fully engaged in life. She knew how to create space for others through their pain and suffering when it was needed and she also knew how to encourage us to move forward.
Aunt Angela is truly unique and has an astonishing combination of creativity and discipline. Whether she was expressing her love of life through photography, ceramics, knitting, writing, baking, cooking, she dove into each project deeply to learn and practice with disciple and determination.
I was both fascinated and amazed at Aunt Angela’s ability to turn “pro” at whatever she put her mind to.
Aunt Angela gave so much of her time through listening for hours on end while not judging but holding space for the most vulnerable parts in all of us and at the same time she knew how to fight, to be strong and to persevere. She did this so well, that at first I found it extremely challenging to understand why she did not want to continue with experimental and alternative treatments for pancreatic cancer. However I have come to understand and appreciate her deep spirituality and connectedness to life that left her unafraid to move on and she has done so with dignity and courage.
Aunt Angela was like a second mom to me. So different than her sister, my loving mother, who is incredibly strong-willed, intelligent, wise and incredibly loyal. Together, the combination of these two amazing women, these spirited souls, I have been blessed to have the guidance and love to keep me on track, navigating life with gratitude and appreciation for each and every miraculous moment here on earth.
It is with Aunt Angela’s fantasy-filled, child-like mind that I have gotten through the saddest and most tragic events in life with faith and understanding that we learn and grow from it all.
Aunt Angela may not have had a huge network of friends and acquaintances but to those that she held dear she made certain to give all that she had. Her time, her energy and love.
I will always take with me her biggest lesson. To give is to live.