Earlier this week, I had lunch with my Aunt Lydia in Mill Creek. Lydia is my dad's baby sister, second to the youngest in a family of eight children that survived to adult hood in a farming town in western North Dakota. My grandparents were Norwegian immigrants, farming on homesteaded land. Sadly, they later lost their farm during the Great Depression, after nine years of consecutive drought...because they could not pay the land taxes.
Lydia was the youngest of three sisters and took after her mother in many ways. She is loving, kind, cheerful, and interested and invested in the lives of her children, grandchildren, siblings, nephews and nieces. I am blessed to be one of those! The year we returned from Brasil, my parents settled in Edmonds, several blocks from Lydia's house and my dad's youngest brother, Ralph. Lydia was a single mother of three girls and worked as an RN to support her family. Her daughters were close in age to my two sisters and me so we spent a lot of time together that year. We all would walk home from Seaview Elementary school to our house and they would stay until Aunt Lydia got off work. Almost every Saturday, we would do something fun together, like ice skating at the SnowKing Ice Arena, or biking around Green Lake on tandem bikes, or taking art lessons (two of Lydia's daughters excelled in art...the rest of us...not so much!). We all attended the same church on Sundays. Of course, there were many overnight stays throughout the years, even after my family moved to Lake Stevens a year later. Our extended family get togethers were always a little wild and crazy, with aunts and uncles, and 36 first cousins. I have such fond memories of all those years!
A year ago, my older sister and I hosted a 90th birthday party for Lydia...a little belatedly since her birthday is really in December. Lydia is still as lovely as ever and living independently in her condo. Her smile can light up a room and she always wants to hear about you...your job, your children, your activities. Her legacy of faith is evident in her daughters and grandchildren...who love to spend time with her. The words that come to mind when I think of her are the words of Lord Byron,
"She walks in beauty, like the night, of cloudless climes and starry skies, and all that's best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes...And on the cheek and o'er that brow, so soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent, A mind at peace with all below, A heart whose love is innocent."
After our lunch at her birthday party, we had a short time of sharing with her what she has meant to all of us. In her typical self effacing way, she responded by giving credit to her parents, her sisters, her brothers and brothers-in-law who all helped her with things around her house when she needed it, a brother (my dad) who traveled with her to Norway and Mexico, her own daughters and son-in-laws and now grandchildren...and her Lord, who has been faithful to her. One of her granddaughters wrote these words,
"Dear Grandma, I am so glad that everyone else seems to know, as I do so well, how wonderful you are. I cannot imagine anyone more worthy of a celebration of life, than you. I hope that you take today to acknowledge the good and happiness you have brought to so many people's lives. Why else would so many want to celebrate your 90th birthday with you? You are an amazing woman that has brightened the lives of those around you and I am grateful to one of the recipients of your light. I love you fiercely!"
I don't know about you, but I would love to hear similar words from a grandchild of mine someday!