Love and Loss

My dear Aunt Aileen Foy Brundage died on February 21, 2011. 

One of ten children, with 21 nieces and nephews, she seemed to be everyone's favorite.  And each one was her favorite.  

She was stricken with tuberculosis when she was young.  Along with two of her sisters (one was my mother), she spent many years in a TB hospital.  She married for the first time when she was 40 years old.  Edward Brundage was a widower, a kind man, older man. 

She and my mother were very close, and they lived together for many years after the death of Uncle Ed.  The inevitable changes that aging brings was hard on them as they lost their independence and their roles changed.  

My mother Mary and Aunt Aileen

A trip to Rochester, NY in November was the last time my sister and I saw her.  She had declined a lot in the recent months, and I did wonder if I would see her again. 

Sadly, I did not.  We weren't able to attend the funeral, but we did write a eulogy which was read by my brother.  And in a display of how technology can enrich our lives, I watched the live feed of the service from my home in Texas, and felt connected to my grieving family.  And my daughter watched from Alabama.  

The simple eulogy below is not a record of her life, but our inadequate expression of the difference our special aunt made in lives of my sister and brothers. 

  Aunt Aileen and Mother

Dear friends and family,

We truly regret we cannot be with you to share in the celebration of the life of Aileen Foy Brundage..  If we cannot honor Aunt Aileen with our presence, we hope to do so with our words.

This is a room full of people who loved and cared about Aileen Brundage.  We want to tell you a little about how much she meant to us.

When our father relocated our family to Miami, Florida in 1959, we were suddenly many miles from all our relatives.  Later, Aunt Aileen told us she thought she'd never see our mother again.  Instead, we found ourselves looking forward to her long winter visits.  She truly was a bright light in our lives.  How she put up with four young children in a tiny house is beyond us.  But she loved us, played endless games of password and scrabble, and gave our exhausted mother a break.  

When she married Uncle Ed and came to live a few miles from us, we could not have been happier.  By this time, we had gotten over the shock of having to share her with someone else.   A few months ago, we came across their love letters, and discovered a whole new side of our Aunt Aileen.  Who knew she liked going to the pool hall, climbed a grapefruit tree, and sometimes went by the name "Scarlette"?  

Aunt Aileen had a delightful sense of humor.  She was amused by so many things, especially herself.  In fact, it wasn’t easy to get a good photo of her because she was always laughing and talking.

She loved wearing colorful clothing.  Pink and red together?  No problem.  Even better with orange.

We all know about her enthusiasm for learning, and how she kept a stack of maps and reference books by her chair.  Telling her a story about a trip would have her reaching for her atlas and mapping out the itinerary.

She had zest for life.  With her vibrant personality, she was engaged in life, and seemed to be wringing every little bit of joy out of it.

As the keeper of our history, she endlessly repeated  funny stories about us.  She probably never knew that she was communicating to us that we mattered, that we were important to her.  She was always interested in us and what we were doing.

And when our children were born, she began a new catalog of sweet stories, collecting more little moments that most people wouldn't care about. She did that for all of us, and we will miss it.  

The bottom line is, she loved us and we loved her.  One of our biggest fans has gone ahead, and we can just imagine what it will be like when we see her again.  She will want to know all about what we have been doing, where we have been and then will launch into one of her favorite family stories.

This is my favorite image of her, 
sandwiched between my mother and her little brother, Jack.

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of one of His saints.
Psalm 116:15

Twelve Months Old

Vera is the darling daughter of Craig and Cheryl Callon.  I've had the privilege of photographing her several times in her short life.  On this day, we were celebrating her first birthday.

It was not as much fun for her as it was for us.

So we followed her lead.

But Vera was happiest with Mommy.  And who can blame her.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

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