My dad’s youngest sibling and my last living aunt on my father’s side of the family, is on the verge of leaving this earth.  Aunt Nina was my mother’s best friend in high school. That’s how my mom met my dad. You might say that if it wasn’t for her, my siblings and I would not have been born.

Each year, Aunt Nina always remembered my birthday with a card.  She told me it was because my birthday (Halloween) was easy to remember.  She simply had a hard time remembering all the other nieces and nephews birthdays.  When she met my husband, Jerry, several years ago, she really seemed to take a strong liking him.  She always remarked to me about how handsome he was, and she insisted on sitting by him whenever we visited her.  

I guess Aunt Nina felt a little bad for sending cards on my birthday and not sending birthday cards to Jerry.  This past December, she sent him about eight birthday cards to make up for all the birthdays she had missed. Some of the cards arrived together, others arrived on separate days.  Just when we thought the last card had arrived, one more showed up in the mail. It made us laugh and endeared her to us even more.

The last two or three years have been difficult for Aunt Nina.  Her health was failing and she was unable to do the things she loved to do.  It has been challenging for her two daughters as they have lovingly cared for their mom for many years.  In recent years, Aunt Nina has expressed a desire to go Home. She wants to be with Jesus, and she misses her parents and her four siblings.  Losing a parent is never easy, no matter how much time you have to prepare for that moment. My cousins are in my thoughts and my heart aches for them.

The thing I remember most about my Aunt Nina, is her great love for horses and dogs.  I don’t know if she ever owned a horse. I hope that she did. I believe, when she was a teenager, she found a place that either owned horses or boarded horses and she would go there to brush and groom their animals.  I think at some point in her life, she also raised Cocker Spaniels and may have even trained them for show. I may not be accurate on all the facts, but I know she never stopped loving animals and seemed to have a special bond with them.

From my perspective, Aunt Nina is the definition of spunk.  She was no pushover and never struck me as being demure or shy in any way.  She said what she meant. If she loved you, you knew it. If she didn’t like something you said or did, you knew that too.  

My dad used to call her “Sweet Pea”.  While my dad was in the Marines during World War II and the Korean War, he wrote several letters to his little sister encouraging her to study hard and do well in school.  He asked her about her plans for the summer and he looked forward to receiving her letters. I know they had a special bond and that he, along with the rest of the family, will be there to welcome her Home.  

Aunt Nina lives several hours from me, so I have not been able to see her very often.  That does not make this impending loss any easier. I find comfort in knowing she will be Home soon.