Saturday, May 18, 2013

A tribute to one of the greatest mothers I have ever known.

I wrote the post below on Mother's Day but couldn't bring myself to publish it all week. My Aunt Wilma passed away today, May 18, 2013 and I am filled with so many emotions. Sorrow that she is gone. Relief that she is free from suffering. Gratitude that I will see her again someday. She was such a special lady. I love her so much. She will be so missed.

Wilma with baby Abby, October 2007.

May 12, 2013 - Mother's Day
This is my Aunt Wilma. Today is a very bittersweet Mother's Day for me because yesterday I said good bye to her for the last time. Less than one month ago she was diagnosed with lung cancer. It was unbelievable because she is a marathon runner and has never smoked in her life. She was in great health, but the cancer progressed so quickly. Two days ago the doctors told her there was nothing else they could do and she was free to go home to spend her final days. She is my mother's sister, and our entire family is heartbroken. She has always been the center of the Crane family and a mother to all of us, even though she never had children of her own.

I visited her in the hospital just three weeks ago and she seemed completely fine to me. I was nervous going in, hoping it was a good time to visit, and it was perfect. I felt so good being there with her. I spent an hour talking to her and laughing and being reassured that this was just a bump in the road and she was going to be fine. I just knew everything was going to be okay.

But now it seems that "okay" is different than what I had envisioned. After visiting her yesterday, I know it's okay for her to go now. The change in her in this short amount of time is huge. It's like she's aged 20 years in just a few weeks. It's a blessing she won't have to suffer much longer. She still knew me and greeted me with open arms. "Oh, Anne Marie, Anne Marie!" Just the way she says my name is so loving. I must have hugged her ten times. It was so hard to walk away.

I have a little secret I'm not sure my other Crane cousins should know. It's that I think I'm her favorite. The thing is, they each think they are her favorite, too. Wilma has this way of loving so completely that you never doubt you have a special place in her heart. All nine of her siblings had many children of their own, and now all of us cousins are cranking out the grand kids like you wouldn't believe. She knows us all. Our spouses, our kids, what we are up to. It's nothing short of amazing. She has turned our lives into her life. I just can't imagine life without her.

I've never had the experience of talking to someone who knows they won't live much longer. Like always, she has a great attitude and acknowledges that this isn't the way she hoped things would go, but it's going to be okay.
May 11, 2013
I think one of things that makes Aunt Wilma unique is her genuine interest in others. I have always felt like she loves me and cares about what is going on in my life. When I was in college I spent some time in Europe with a room mate. When I returned, I spent the night at Aunt Wilma's in Salt Lake City before driving home to Idaho the next day. I had a boatload of pictures and I was so excited to share everything I had experienced. I remember Aunt Wilma sitting down with me and going through every single picture, asking questions and listening to my stories and wanting to hear every last detail. I loved sharing my experiences with her and I was just busting to go home and go through it all again with my parents. My parents, however, were like most people and hearing about someone else's trip for hours didn't exactly rank high on the radar. I don't think they ever even looked at my pictures. It has always meant a lot to me that Aunt Wilma did that for me, and even pretended like she liked it (and maybe she did!).

I lived with Aunt Wilma for about a month after I graduated from college. I was taking some computer classes in Salt Lake and my dad didn't want me driving too far each day, so I moved on in with Wilma. It was such a fun time. I'll never forget how each morning she would set out a glass of ice water with a straw for me, along with a cereal bowl and spoon. She had to leave earlier than I did and I loved coming upstairs to a little breakfast table set just for me. She would make dinner for me each night and listen to me talk about my day. After several years of being on my own, it felt so good to have someone take care of me. I will always cherish those days.

Each year my mom's family has a reunion in the hills above Bennington, Idaho, where my Grandpa Crane herded sheep. Aunt Wilma made stick horses for all the great-grandkids and would take them on a tour of the area and tell them lots of stories about our family history. It was one of the things my kids looked the most forward to each year. I hope we can keep the tradition going, but it won't be the same without Wilma. When I explained to five-year-old Abby that Wilma is sick and is not going to live much longer Abby asked, "But then who is going to lead the reunion?"

I guess the thing I am most grateful for about Wilma is her Christ-like example. Her testimony of the gospel never wavered and she truly loved others as Christ did. I never felt anything but love and acceptance from her. Her positive attitude and love for life touched everyone she met. I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to know her in this life, and especially that I got to sit down with her one last time and tell her I love her and thank her for her influence. How grateful I am for the knowledge that families are forever and I will see her again. I love you, Aunt Wilma!