My Aunt was the only girl in a family of 5 boys. The oldest, Orth, died in 1993. The family lost track of him in the late 1950's. Vollie died on the second day of fighting during the Battle of Okinawa. We do no know if his body was left in Japan or brought back to the States for burial. Then there is my Uncle Mike and his twin Beckman. Beckman died in the 1970's. He was a bachelor all of his life, stricken with tuberculosis, and needing a hearing aid, he was my favorite Uncle. My father, in the picture above with Nancy, died in 2007, complications from esophageal cancer. This picture was taken in 2005, just before we found out what the diagnosis was. We knew that he was sick, but not how serious. We went Texas so that he could see his brother and sister one last time.
After my Dad passed away, I took the trip to Texas myself. I sat with my Aunt and we laughed and cried together. By this time she was on oxygen full time, barely making it from room to room. She told me about changing my Dad's diapers when he was small, babysitting him, how he was loved, and spoiled, being the youngest of the family . There was a 12 year difference in age between my Aunt and my father.
My Aunt raised a wonderful family of her own. Her husband Homer, the love of her life, suffered with Alzheimers Disease. She kept him home, and took care of him as only a committed couple can do. She moved him into a care facility during the last year of his life when his care became overwhelming. She was there almost everyday to spend time with him. My cousin Amanda, took Nancy into their home when she became too frail to stay on her own.
My Uncle Mike is the last of the older generation in our family. He will be 95 this year. He shares many of the attributes that his younger sister had.
As we lose our older family members one by one, I keep feeling that I haven't asked enough questions, listened deep enough, learned enough. I realize that I am stepping into the place of "elder"; the place that was occupied by my parents, aunts and uncles. I don't feel that I am ready for that, but I suppose they didn't either.
To Nancy Elizabeth Chapman Lewis, good bye sweet Lady. I have been blessed and I am a better woman for knowing you. But I send you back to the arms of your Homer, so see your parents Jesse and Amanda, to join your brothers who love you so.