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I am back on the mainland and blogging from Seattle with South Austin in the rearview mirror. Don't worry Virgin Island fans, I will most certainly be back in the Caribbean for visits if not full-time. And I'm sure St. Thomas will creep it's way into many future posts. For now, it's all about living in the Pacific Northwest!

June 16, 2013

Stuff I Remember

The obituary in the Chicago Tribune, describes my Aunt as "Mary Therese Jeffers, age 68 of Wilmette, IL. Dear sister of Martin (Martha) Jeffers and the late Kathleen Markey; loving aunt of 9 and great aunt of 6; devoted daughter of the late Martin and Juliette Jeffers."

Mary Therese was those things. She was also many and much more: daughter, sister, godmother, friend, confidant and counselor, storyteller,family historian, and Irish lass. To me, she was Aunt Terry, the guardian of 2627 Lake Avenue and my happiest childhood memories.  Though my family lived in a different neighborhood, this house built by my grandparents is the one where I grew up. And will always be my Chicago home.  The trees still tower over the yard where my sisters and cousins and I played, our bare foot prints in the soft grass. 

Chicago Tribune Obituary
When I learned that she had gone, my inner child threw a tantrum. In my head, I was stomping my feet and shaking my fists and out loud saying "No! No! No! No! No! " Never at a loss for words, funny that was the only word that would come. I wanted so much for it not to be true, for there to have been some grievous error. But there was no error. Aunt Terry, the brightest spot in any day I spoke with her, was gone.

Images of times spent with her rush at me. In almost all of them, she is laughing. She laughed easily. The laugh I hear most is one that started from nothing and came out high and quick. My oldest male cousin does a great impression. The quick burst with her head thrown back, the ones that went on and on, finally tapering off with a "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!", the talking laugh (my mom and sister do that too).

She was strong, opinionated, and stubborn as a summer day is long. She never failed to tell me when I was making a bad decision and was always my biggest fan when I succeeded. This was true for everyone in her life. She knew where we were, what we were doing and we knew each other through her. She wove a strong thread through our lives and bound us together. Over the last several days, I heard from so many how she touched their lives and how much she was loved. And from all, stories of how they had laughed together.

They say that people most remember how you make them feel. She made me feel loved. I have never felt more at home than in her home and in her company. She knew me as a child and as a woman and was able to see and love me for who I was in all the in between. I am lucky to have known her and fortunate to have been influenced by her. My dear aunt. She lived without fear, loved unconditionally and without caution, and laughed with abandon.  My heart will forever hold her near and fondly remember the place of my happiest childhood.  

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