Last week my extended family gathered in central Illinois to say goodbye to my Aunt Neta Neese.
Traveling there was not going to be possible for me - so I was able to visit her during her last hours in the Wichita Falls Hospice facility where she was confined. It was important for me to be able to go and sit with her for a short time to speak over her and let her know how she'd blessed my life. I don't know that she was aware of my presence - but the time to sit with Steven and remember the past and the strong legacy she and Uncle Lowell passed on to our family was so precious to me. It was a God-gift I knew for certain.
Aunt Neta had just moved to Texas the month before and was getting settled in her new home near her son, Steven, Two years ago she lost both her son Tony and a few months later my Uncle Lowell, who had fought a lengthy battle with Alzheimers. Her 89 years were full of service to her family. She was tiny with an strong and vibrant spirit. Her faith was evident -- Their fifth son, Tony was born with physical and mental challenges. She became his advocate and though they were farmers and lived quite far from adequate facilities for his care -- she set about to find a school for him and moved there with him to help his development. In 1972 their fourth son, Roger suffered a fatal injury at 15. Aunt Neta faced these crisis with strength and determination. She would think outside the box. She was such an example for me.
This tiny little woman had taught school before her marriage, raised their boys, worked hard with Uncle Lowell on the farm, and doted on her grandchildren. She was a lifelong member of Weight Watchers and was always careful about it -- though she was an excellent cook! Years ago when our kids were younger and would be home from Texas, it was important to take our kids to the farm to visit Uncle Lowell and Aunt Neta.
One of my favorite memories was Christmas of 1991 they helped Terry drive Mom and Dad to TX for them to winter with us -- it was a favorite trip for Mom b/c at every rest stop she got to eat Aunt Neta's yummmy Christmas goodies. 20 years later driving their big RV on the way to see their family in OK and TX they would stop by Tulsa to visit us
Her boys said she always said that I was the daughter she never had -- I didn't know that -- I just know that she always took time to come visit me and when I would call (she would make me feel like it had only been two weeks since we'd talked -- not the actual two years). My first birthday after Mom's death - she called to wish me Happy Birthday -- knowing I wouldn't be getting that call from my mother.