My paternal side of the family is grieving today. Well, celebrating too. But grieving. Speaking for myself, I'm in shock. Maybe others of us are too...but last night we lost a precious family member. My grandmother's sister and only sibling, Jean McClellan. Here the two sisters are laughing together in March at my grandmother's 80th birthday celebration. Jean is the white-haired one.
These two Stewardson women were the only children of George Stewardson Jr. and Velma Evans. Raised together as the only choice of playmates on the family ranch other than cousins, the two had a deep love for each other. Here they are as children. My grandmother, Kathryn, is the older of the two.
Maybe your Great-Aunt is someone you were never close to, and if so, you wouldn't understand why this is hitting so hard. But I guess as far as Great-Aunts go...mine was special. Also, everyone has a different relationship with their loved-ones. Her daughters, her husband, her sister, nieces and nephews will all remember her in their own way. My relationship with her and memories of her are unique.
As a child, I remember spending time playing in her living room, learning how to knit, admiring her kitchen cabinets which had a GIANT rainbow across them from left to right over the kitchen sink. I remember her playing her organ and piano and singing hymns. I remember a certain tune that I have only ever heard at her house...it is Are You Going to Scarborough Fair? I have so many happy memories of Aunt Jean and her family. I was the flower girl in two of her daughter's weddings. At one point in time, she lived right in front of a "mountain" in Santa Anna, TX. I remember at family reunions walking out her back door with all my cousins and hiking up that huge mountain...now that I am grown I wonder how much smaller that mountain would seem.
|I was playing in her living room here.|
|Daddy and me at Aunt Jean's|
|Joy teaching me the Rubix Cube-I was in her wedding|
Aunt Jean was also an amazing seamstress, and prided herself on her quilts. If you are a part of this family, you have one of her quilts. I must be pretty special, because I have four! I will always treasure these as precious family heirlooms to be handed down and handled with care. Her initials are even hand-sewn into them with the year.
|My baby quilt from 1978-hand sewn by Aunt Jean|
|My wedding quilt from 2002-she drove all the way from west Texas to Houston for my wedding!|
|Jake's baby circle quilt-a Pinterest experiment on her part. She was so hip!|
|Jake's baby quilt|
Last night Aunt Jean went to be with the Lord. She had been sick longer than we had all known, evidently. It wasn't until Jake was about two or three weeks old that we even found out she had lymphoma. Jake is now only 6 weeks old, so we only knew for a short time. Maybe we all expected this to be a longer journey, to have more time to spend with her, to help care for her. I know I did...so when my dad called me during dinner last night to tell me they were throwing things in the car to make the drive to west/central Texas to see her before she leaves this world, my stomach dropped. ALREADY??? And the saddest part? They didn't make it there in time. My heart breaks just typing it. Her one and only sister didn't make it in time.
I know God is sovereign, and that it was her time to go. I know that she is now in Heaven singing even prettier than she ever has before. How awesome to be in that place!
But my heart still aches. I still catch myself in shock. I still have to keep grabbing tissues over this one. Heaven got a good one yesterday.
I am very proud of one recent thing I did that I will never regret. Most people know I'm a huge nerd and love to read and research and do genealogy. Well, due to my own grandmother's Alzheimer's I had gotten even closer with Aunt Jean lately as a source for my paternal maternal genealogy. She remembered and kept so much about the family history, and all I ever had to do was Facebook message her and she was all over it! She invited me out to San Angelo in June for a family history trip. So, since we were still in the waiting process of adopting...I went! My mom and I loaded up in my dad's convertible and rode with the top down to go see her and learn from her. Here is sweet Abbie enjoying the topless ride!
I do wish I had taken more photos of our time there, like when we pulled out the family tree and began poring over it. Or the look on everyone's face when I shared my discovery of our genealogical link to the Boleyn family. As in Queen of England! Or when I made her sit down and play piano and sing. Or when we all loaded up into 4 cars and went to eat Mexican food...YUM. But I didn't. I mostly took photos of the genealogy stuff. Here are some highlight photos from my recent trip there.
|The last photo I have of Aunt Jean and me. Taken June 7, 2012.|
|Aunt Jean holding her family stemware.|
|The Goodman family Bible|
|The Stewardson Family: My Daddy is in the plaid shirt on the right. Aunt Jean is the beauty in the cat-eye glasses.|
|On the family ranch|
|Aunt Jean's handsome veteran husband Jasper McClellan|
|Beautiful, young Aunt Jean!!|
As a lover of family history, I see the value in reaching out to love your family. All of them. Hug your loved ones. Tell them you love them more often than you think they need to hear it. Ask all the family history questions while you still can. I will always miss her...I can't imagine this world without her in it. But I will choose to celebrate a life lived ministering to others, loving her family well, and making beautiful sounds and quilts and happy hearts. We love you Aunt Jean! Can't wait to see you again!