Today as Lady Hiva and I were out doing errands we found out that my Aunt Donna had passed away. Her death came as a bit of a shock to me. Yes, she was battling lung cancer, but she had gone through the surgery and was mending. She truly was a wonderful, caring woman. She gave all she had to anyone who needed it and expected nothing in return. She will be missed.
As we returned to my Grandparent’s house to the all-to-familiar packing and planning to get everyone from around the Country together for a funeral I had time to sit and think about Aunt Donna and how she was such an integrated person in the entire family. She was never one to be the fore front of attention, but touch all our lives and hearts just the same. Many have referred to her as an Angel on Earth. I would agree to that.
Aunt Donna was always part of our lives growing up. Everyone in the family could share multiple stories about her witty and spunky humor, her carefree adventurous nature, her compassionate love for family and her zest for life.
I want to share some of mine.
Aunt Donna is my maternal Grandmother’s twin sister. The two complimented each other well. Where Aunt Donna was bursting with adventure and always making mischief, Gramy is more reserved. Some of my earliest memories of the two of them were watching them sing a Cabare tune “Just me and my shadow!” while dancing down the sidewalk of Salt Lake City. I loved to listen in fascination as they told stories about growing up together and the shenanigans they would get themselves into.
Outside Aunt Vyonne’s house (the younger sister) there is a large tree. When we were younger we always wanted to climb the tree. I distinctly remember a conversation with Aunt Donna that could very well be a theme to live by. I told Aunt Donna I wanted to climb the tree with the bigger kids. But I needed her help to make it to the first branch. She responded, “If you aren’t determined enough to find a way up the tree yourself then you don’t belong there in the first place.” Those are words to live by.
As I said before, Aunt Donna was always the first to offer help to anyone in the family—no matter the personal cost for her. If it was money, time, or any other need she would drop anything and run to the rescue. She had no children of her own, but anyone in the family could tell you she loved us all. She never missed a special event, a graduation, a baptism, or a wedding if she could possibly be there. In fact, when Lady Hiva and I were married we thought, through a miscommunication, that we were not going to have a cake. While we were in the Temple Aunt Donna and Gramy went out and found a bakery and bought a beautiful wedding cake so we would have one. She never asked nor expected a “thank you” or anything else in return. That is just how she was—giving.
Do you remember those 3-D paintings that were big in the early 90’s that were geometrical patterns but if you focused just right images would pop off the page? I loved them! And Aunt Donna would sit for hours with me looking at them. It became “our thing to do together.”
When I cut my fingers off and was life-flighted to Salt Lake Aunt Donna and Aunt Vyonne were there at the hospital waiting for us to arrive. Aunt Donna knew I would need something familiar to distract myself and came equipped with several new books of 3-D pictures we could look at together.
One of my favorite things about Aunt Donna was every time she said goodbye—in person or on the phone—she always said , in her cheerful sing-song tones, “I luva, luva, luva you!” We were always so happy to repeat her trademark phrase back to her. With those words we knew that in her unique way, she loved us all.
So today, Earth lost one of its most compassionate angels and Heaven gained someone to keep them all on their toes. We will all miss her, but are THANKFUL for her life, her goodness, and her example to us all. I know I will miss her. I also know that because families can be together forever, I will one day be able to give her a hug and smile as we race to say, “I luva, luva, luva you” first.
Aunt Donna, thank you for being part of my life. For showing me it is OK to be yourself and enjoy life. And, until we meet again, “ I LUVA, LUVA, LUVA YOU!”