Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Beautiful Aunt Loretta

I must say that I've been blessed with some very beautiful aunts in my family. On my mom's side I have Linda, Loretta, Lena Mae, Frances, Brenda, and Pam. On my dad's side I have Sandy, Charlotte, and Mary Frances. They are all lovely.

Sadly, two of my aunts have passed away. My aunt Frances died just a few years ago. I will always think of her as she was when I was about ten years old. She was stunningly beautiful. I will always remember her with her long black hair wearing a crushed velvet pantsuit (it was back in the day of crushed velvet hot pants and couches, wood paneling and shag carpeting). I distinctly remember one afternoon when she picked me up at school when I was in the third grade. I hoped with all my heart that all my friends would see me walking down the sidewalk with my pretty aunt. I was so proud of her.

My aunt Loretta passed away when my kids were small. She was something extra special. She didn't live near us, but several states away in Florida. It was a wonderful time when we would learn that she was coming down for the holidays. If you think of a Hollywood premiere with spotlights on movie stars, then you have some inkling of what it was like when Loretta would arrive. It helped that she looked a lot like the movie star, Ann Margaret. She would walk into the room and the atmosphere would change. Her laugh would ring out as she embraced everyone. You just had to be happy around Loretta. She would enjoy everything that came out of your mouth no matter who you were. I look back now and realize what a gift that is. To make the person in front of you feel like they are valuable and important is a rarity. She truly seemed to enjoy hearing all about my ten year old, thirteen year old, or sixteen year old self. She made everyone feel that way. No wonder we all looked forward to seeing her.

My very first plane ride was with my aunt Pam to go and visit Loretta in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. She took us to see Jaws and then we were too scared to swim in the Gulf of Mexico (at least for a day).  It was a special visit because after years of wanting a child, she and her husband were finally expecting a baby. She radiated joy and happiness. Her little girl, Adria, was an answer to their prayers.

Years later, she was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease and died a short time later. A beautiful light went out when she passed away.

But every holiday season, when I am preparing for Thanksgiving, I think of Loretta. Over the years, I've tried to make the holidays special for my nieces and nephews. I've tried to keep alive that joy that she always brought to the holiday season and even the ordinary days (which she made extraordinary) when she was able to come and see us.

So to all my nieces and nephews, and especially to my own children, I hope I've been able in some small way, to make Thanksgiving and Christmas as special for you as she did for me.

Thank you, Loretta:)

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