On July 4, 2015, my beloved Aunt Susie flew away to Jesus. Words seem inadequate when describing the significance of her life. As I look back over my own life, her influence is unmistakable, and memories flood my mind like waves flood the shore. She has been a rock of stability for as long as I can remember.
I remember the early days and trips with Aunt Susie to the beach, the library, and the park. We would take the dogs and pick up pastrami sandwiches and mochas for our picnics. And then there were the special trips to the grocery store so we could bake cookies together. I’ll never forget experiencing my first earthquake in California. I woke up in the early morning to find the ground moving beneath me. I looked up and saw Aunt Susie watching over me. After it was over, we both went back to sleep. The thought of her presence still brings me comfort
Aunt Susie knew how to have fun and be fun. One particular memory remains etched in my mind. We were having a light-hearted conversation about a spill on the carpet when she said with a twinkle in her eye, “Out, damn’d spot, Out, I say!” Horrified, I responded “Aunt Susie! You said a bad word!” She, then, informed me that she was quoting from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act V, scene 1, to be exact. This was the beginning of the literary education she would provide me. Through the books she gave me, I learned about D.L. Moody, Fanny Crosby, and John Calvin. When I reached high school and college, she introduced me to Agatha Christie, Victor Davis Hanson, Thomas Sowell and R.C. Sproul and, yes, the complete works of William Shakespeare. To this day there is not a book I read or review that I don’t think of her.
Aunt Susie was there when I took my first steps in my writing journey. She spent hours on the phone with me as we proofread and edited my lessons, which would turn into the chapters of my first draft. After we’d fixed dangling modifiers and put commas in their proper places, we’d move to discussing the day’s events, the books we were reading, theology, and our puppies. She always had a word of encouragement and an eternal perspective. I will treasure those conversations.
Looking back, I know there were times when she was sick or tired, but Aunt Susie chose to put me and others first, at the expense of herself. She always made time for me. This would never change. She was the most patient person I’ve ever known. Never small or petty. She was kind, always kind, and I never felt her disapproval, only her unconditional love and acceptance. She was joyful in the midst of adversity, patient in pain, and always deferred to others. Even as her body was failing, her sense of humor did not.
Aunt Susie’s faith was the foundation of her life and was reflected in everything she did. She walked a road of authenticity, trusting God through her suffering. In whatever hardship she faced, she was quick to count her blessings. I can remember her saying, “There are worse things than this.” She was a constant example of gentleness and grace. By her very life and testimony, she reminded me consistently that light affliction was nothing compared to the eternal weight of future glory. In the end, she went peacefully into the presence of her Savior, whom she trusted fully in life and in death. What she believed in faith is now reality.
Eternity seems nearer now that Aunt Susie has gone ahead. She left a distinctive path of piety and perseverance. For this and so many other reasons, I will continue to be grateful for her life, and the way she chose to live it. When it’s my turn to follow, she’ll be waiting for me just inside the gates of splendor. She will smile and say, “Well, there she is! There’s my girl!” And we will skip hand in hand through those golden streets together. Until then, by God’s grace, I endeavor to live bravely, love deeply, and give generously as I follow her faithful example.