Joan was.......I've started this sentence three times and am not sure how to proceed.
Joan was my aunt, my friend and my girls' grandmother. I was going to say "grandmother substitute" but in reality, she was their grandmother in all but name.
When I got married and my parents pulled away and put distance between us, my Aunt Joan did not. She loved me and my little family wholeheartedly and we returned the love. One November when I was calling to make sure she knew she was expected for Thanksgiving, she said, "Of course I'm coming. Where else would I go?" She remembered that I love coconut custard pie and would always bring one.
Aunt Joan was my link to the past. She told me the family stories that my mother always seemed to be reluctant to tell. She told me about when I was a baby and what a hard time I gave her when she babysat (my mother was a single mom and lived at home when I was born. Not a common occurrence in 1957).
She told my girls stories that I didn't remember. She let my cousin move home after she lost her job. Not an uncommon thing? Well, how about with her 18 cats? And as much as she didn't like the cats (she likes cats, just not 18 at once), she kept them for as long as she could after my cousin died last year because my cousin thought of them as her kids.
She made tins of cookies every year for the holidays and candies. She made wonderful chocolate candies and always put away a box for me. She hasn't been able to manage them for a while now and I guess I'll have to pick up that baton and run with it.
The last few years have been tough ones. She had pulmonary hypertension and breathing became difficult. The last time we talked, she was optimistic about a new breathing machine that would deliver more oxygen. It didn't take much to turn her lips purple and sap her strength. We kept hoping for a miracle but they are in short supply.
She went quietly and softly. And we'll bury her with a pair of brightly colored handknit socks on her feet.