Playdates with God: Until the Spring

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There was a soft breeze in the air on Friday morning when we buried my Aunt Effie. The wind robbed the hills of their gems, scattered them to the sky so that we drove through the wild, tumbling kaleidoscope like ticker tape; the funeral procession weaving its way through town like a parade underneath all that colorful confetti. I drove my minivan up, up, up the cemetery hill, keeping close behind my cousin Sue, who was driving my Uncle Edward and Aunt Steech. I could see their hunched figures through the window and wondered for the millionth time how it must feel to bury a sister—one you’ve known from the beginnings of you. I breathed in scent of my cousin Lori (once removed), perfumed by hugs and powdered cheeks.

Along the narrow cemetery road, oval-shaped yellow leaves were tossed and stacked, like golden coins, scattered, welcoming us to heaven’s gate. Were they beech leaves? I peered through the tangled mass of branches on the hillside and couldn’t make out the smooth gray bark, the arching branches. Who knows what kind of trees will be in heaven? I thought of how the ancients buried their beloved ones on hills—Nearer My God to Thee.

The air was heavy with moisture but the rain held off until we were again in our cars, processing back to Farmington for a family dinner. I was listening to Andrew Peterson singing “The Rain Keeps Falling” and it felt like goodbye. My Aunt Effie lived 89 years and she will always be young and strong in my mind. Funny how, when one is with the elderfamily, she becomes a little girl again.

Farmington, West Virginia gained fame in 1968 for the coal mine explosion that killed 78 men, but it’s always been famous to me as the place many of the people I love live. As a little girl I did not know about the explosion—so strong it was felt twelve miles away. I did not know how attempts were made for ten years to recover the bodies, how nineteen were unrecovered, even after all that time. All I knew was my family was there: my paternal grandpa—long widowed, so many cousins, and my Aunt Effie. Every summer we traveled those skinny roads for our family reunion, which met up in Aunt Effie’s back yard. There was no better place. The creek that wound it’s way around the adjacent hill provided endless hours of activity for me and my myriad of cousins—catching crawdads, building dams, wading far upstream and out of grown-up sight. The hills of Farmington hold the sacred in their bellies.

My Aunt Juanita shared some memories about Aunt Effie during the funeral service. She had us smiling and laughing and dabbing the corners of our eyes, but one thing she said rung true to these ears that used to be a little girl’s. She talked about Effie’s gift for hospitality. How her door was always open and her ear prepared to listen. When I think of her, I think of food. She always fed us well. She loved her family.

And she was strong, having lost her husband too early and unexpectedly. With two children still at home, she had to become the breadwinner. She also cared for my grandpa until he died at the age of 100. She was a hard worker and a gentle heart.

This week, I thanked God for the life of my Aunt Effie as I raked the leaves in our back yard. The trees in the meadow behind our house have gone wild and every fall they shed mounds and mounds of colorful chaff. There are still three large piles waiting for me to bag, but I was able to shred some to cover my sleepy garden. They’ll make a nourishing blanket until the spring brings new life, awakens new glory.

Every Monday I share one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find God and know joy. Click on the button below to add your link. I try to visit a few of your stories every week, so if you are a new visitor, be sure to let me know in the comments so I can welcome you. Grab my button at the bottom of the page and join us.

The winner of the Vibella bracelet is Karrilee! Congratulations, Karilee, I’ll be in touch!

Laura Boggess

Comments

  1. says

    I don’t have a sister – but the sisterhood of my aunts has been a blessing to me. I love the thread of their story that intertwines with mine – everyday I still miss my grandmother’s story thread being current with mine. I feel those threads keenly – and even though heaven is a better place, I wish their threads could always continue being woven into my story. Sending you {HUGS} for your family’s loss and praying that God comfort your family!

  2. says

    Oh, Laura, I’m sorry for your family’s loss! May the Lord comfort you as only He can and draw your family closer together as you grieve. (Fuzz therapy helps some. See if Bonnie can squeeze you in for an appointment today.) xxoo

  3. says

    So sorry for you and your family’s loss, Laura. Will keep you all in my prayers and am thankful for the way your Aunt Effie lived–inspiring you all along the road of life. We so need people in our lives like that. I bet you are an “Aunt Effie” to those in your family circle now. What a legacy you get to carry on for her.

  4. says

    I’m sorry for your loss, Laura, but thankful for the sweet memories that you have that relate to Aunt Effie. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

  5. says

    I love hearing about the lives of such strong yet gentle women. Glad you were able to be a part of your aunt’s life and know her stories. Thanks for sharing Aunt Effie with us today, Laura.

  6. Lynn D. Morrissey says

    Laura, I’m so very sorry about the passing of your beloved aunt. She sounded like a beautiful, vibrant woman–one who mellowed with age, winsome like fine wine. Oh, how you will miss her. This post is saturated with beauty….God’s and hers, even in death, and there are glimpses of heaven and resurrection. Leaves fall, but they will rise again off new branches in the new heaven and earth–off branches that won’t let them go. Please accept my heartfelt sympathy.
    Love
    Lynn

  7. says

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve becom increasingly aware that the lives who touch us the deepest are the ones we miss the most when gone. A life well lived leaves a big void.

    Blessings to you, this autumn season!

  8. says

    A beautiful tribute to a life obviously lived long and well. We are blessed when we have such wonderful examples in our families. So sorry for your loss, Laura. Grateful to read your reminder > “spring brings new life, awakens new glory.” Blessings!

  9. says

    The leaves of maples and cottonwoods and birch are blanketing my front yard and the sidewalks all over our neighborhood. This time of year is always a sort of ‘going to sleep’ time…I thought of that as I read of your Aunt Effie’s passing as your family gathered to say goodbye. What a treasure to be connected so.
    And Andrew Peterson? I was JUST listening to that song on the way home….I’ve got the CD on repeat.

    Bless you my beautiful friend.

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