A Distant Good-bye
In the grand scheme of things, our lifetimes are short and our bodies fragile. From the moment we are conceived in our mother’s womb we are working against an unseen countdown clock towards expiration. Ideally, everyone would live long, happy lives; unfortunately, many see only several decades, others mere days or fleeting moments.
The majority of my family members have died relatively young (many prior to turning 65 years old), but there have been a few who were blessed with good health and longevity. My great-aunt Martha was one of the latter.
Born in 1924, Aunt Martha grew up in the small rural town where I currently reside, the same as her mother (my great-grandmother). Her little brother, my grandfather, was born a few years later.
In 1944, Aunt Martha married a sailor she had met at Kansas City’s Union Station train depot. Uncle Dale, a Purple Heart recipient and Pearl Harbor survivor, swept her off her feet; they celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary together last September.
Though they had grandchildren and great-grandchildren of their own, Aunt Martha and Uncle Dale always made me feel like I was special to them. I cherished the t-shirts and souvenirs from their many travels.
We saw Aunt Martha and Uncle Dale every summer, visiting them in Texas or hosting them in our home. After my my great-grandmother passed away in 1998, the visits were fewer and further between. Our most recent time together was some five years ago.
Around that same time, I worked for our local library. It was there that I had the extreme pleasure and honor of meeting some of Granddad and Aunt Martha’s former classmates who still reside nearby. They shared favorite memories of schooldays and stories of extracurricular mischief.
I marvel when thinking on “The Greatest Generation,” and I’m deeply saddened by the rate at which they are disappearing from our demographics. This is the generation that banded together—men and women, civilian and armed—to overcome tyrannical leaders and fascist regimes. With more than 16 million men and women joining the effort during WWII, hardly anyone went unaffected.
Yet in spite of all their experiences, those remaining Greats have such a joy about them. Even with ailing bodies, they carry themselves with dignity and grace. Perhaps it’s because they were raised to stand for the greater good, which can only happen when you’re prepared to give your best.
Aunt Martha left the worries of this world on Monday, her sweet spirit passing on to the land of memory. She was one of the most beautiful people I’ve known, inside and out.
Like the rest of my family, I’m grieved by the loss. On the other hand, this is precisely how it’s supposed to happen…a long, happy life filled with loved ones and great experiences. I can only hope to be so blessed.
Life ends not here upon this earth,
The Savior, He awaits
To gather in His loving arms
Each soul at Heaven’s gates