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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Aunt Sue

It was a Friday night, my mother had just called me and informed me that my Aunt Sue was not doing well, she would be passing away soon. Mom asked me if I wanted to go see her in the hospital and say good bye to her.  I told mom that I would rather not, I wanted my memory of Aunt Sue to be of when she was healthy and happy. Mom asked me, if she asks for you will you come? Of course was my answer, there would be no way to deny that request.

I feel that I should pause my story and tell you a little about who I am writing about.  When I was little my mom worked full time as the manager of a woman's dress shop.  It would be my Aunt Sue who would watch me during the day while mom was working.  I would say she was my day care provider but that would be an insufficient definition of what she did for me.  I would spend years in my Aunt's home, She treated me like her second son, the third child she never had.  It was in her care that I accepted Christ, learned to ride a bike and have a ton of great memories.  My Aunt Sue lovingly helped raise me, she truly became my second mother.  Aunt Sue was also the matriarch of the family after Grandma Dietz passed away.  She was also the party planner, there would be no family gathering that Aunt Sue did not have a part in planning.  And at those gatherings game must be played, games she planned.

When I got the news that my Dad had been diagnosed with cancer it would be Aunt Sue that I called to see if we could set up a family prayer time.  Her answer was leave it to me, I will round everyone up.  And that she did, with only a days notice she gathered the family for prayer.  Aunt Sue was a wonderful example to me of what a loving mother, wife and child of God are.  Over the years after I grew up and had my own children it would be Aunt Sue that I would go to for advise and wise counsel. I am convinced that her wisdom at times was not her own.  As I said before she was a devoted follower of God.

OK back to the story.  It would be only a couple hours after my mom asked me if I would come if asked that I got the call, she is asking for you.  I found that I was scared to go, frightened by what I might see.  This woman is one of the "rocks" in my life.  How will I know what to say?!?  What I I say something stupid?  But as I promised I went.  The drive to the hospital was a long one, it would be a good time of prayer for me.  I asked God for wisdom.

When I arrived on the fourth floor of the hospital, the intensive care unit I was asked by a nurse who I was there to see.  When I told her my Aunt's name she gave me the room number.  She also without saying it let me know that the restriction of visitors was lifted anyone was welcome to come say good bye.  When I arrived at the room, I found it was full with family and friends of Aunt Sue.  I was ushered to her bed side.  When she saw me, I could tell she was happy I was there.  With the help of an Ipad she talked to me.  With some effort she typed "my second son". Reading that was both painful and joyful in the same time.  It felt great because I have always felt like I was her second son the youngest of the kids.  But there was pain in knowing that soon my second mother would be passing away.

We were told that they would be taking out the breathing tube that was keeping her alive.  She would pass away soon.  I spent several hours at the hospital, I found myself on wanting to leave.  I wanted to spend every moment I could near my Aunt while she was still here on earth.  I would left the hospital very late and return the next morning.  The next morning the breathing tube was removed by the doctor. We had been told that Aunt Sue would probably not be able to talk and she would probably pass quickly.  When the tube was out Aunt Sue began to speak.  And speak she did!  Aunt Sue would go on to address everyone in the room by name. She would give them words of encouragement and advise.  I should say that by this time there was about 20 people in the hospital room.  Aunt Sue would go on to give a sermon from her hospital bed. She spoke on unity and love.  She reminded us to not worry about the small stuff.  We were told to keep our eyes on God, focus on Him.  As Aunt Sue laid there dying her heart was for others.  Her last words I will hold dear in my heart.  It became very clear that no one wanted to go, they all wanted to be with Sue. They all wanted to hear what she had to say.

I had come full circle, I did not want to come to this place but now I would not leave.  What I saw in that hospital room was not an Aunt losing her life but the love of God.  I watched as her husband my Uncle Gary sat next to her.  I witnessed my mom and her two other sisters sitting around Aunt Sue holding her hands and patting her.  What I was a witness to was the loving kindness of the living God. A husband, three sisters, kids, grand kids and a lot of other family were helping my Aunt Sue go home. I have come to understand that what I saw was Holy. It was from God.  And I believe with all that is in me that God was present in that hospital room.  Aunt Sue's last day was a day full of singing, prayer and a challenging message from Aunt Sue.  I left the hospital only after Aunt Sue kicked me out. She told everyone to leave, go home get rest. She would pass away later the next morning.

I write this mostly for myself, a record of what happened.  A record of a place and time when I encountered the love of God.  While I am very sad my Aunt Sue passed away.  I stand amazed at what I witnessed her last day!  There was so much beauty and love, it was amazing!!  For me I will continue to try to live my life in a way that would make my Aunt Sue proud because if I am doing that, I am doing fine.  I do look forward to the day I see my loving Aunt and the others who have gone before again!