On March 1, 2016, something unexpected happened that has left me heartbroken; my aunt Donna passed away. Losing a loved one is hard for everyone, but she wasn’t the typical aunt.
On March 1, 2016, something unexpected happened that has left me heartbroken; my aunt Donna passed away. Losing a loved one is hard for everyone, but she wasn’t the typical aunt. She acted more like a second mother to me. She was never married and didn’t have any children of her own, so she spent a lot of time with me. It wasn’t until after her passing that I realized that she taught me some very valuable life lessons while I was growing up, lessons that are worth sharing.
She taught me to how to be passionate about things you enjoy in life.
If you met her on the street, she would introduce herself, and within five minutes of starting the conversation, she’d probably say something like, ” I love Elvis Presley, we have the same birthday! I was born on January 8, 1944. I’m a huge fan.” If you knew my aunt, you’d know she had a passion for all things Elvis. She had a huge Elvis collection, went to Graceland twice in her lifetime, and frequently attended Elvis tribute concerts. I used to think it was crazy, that she would light up with just the mention of his name, but now I realize it wasn’t crazy, it was her passion. Passion is defined as an intense desire or enthusiasm for something (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/passion). In my opinion, passion is an emotion that our generation is lacking. Most people don’t have a lot of hobbies that they are passionate about, they tend to have passion towards people in their lives instead.
She taught me to be who I am, do what I want and not to worry what people think of me.
One of the things I loved about my aunt was her unique, quirky personality. There is not another person like her in this world. She loved music so much that it didn’t matter where she was or what she was doing. The moment she heard a song, she’d immediately stop what she was doing and start dancing. When I was little, I remember a countless number of times we’d be in a restaurant or out shopping and she’d just break out in song and dance. I’d roll my eyes and say “Aunt Donna, you’re embarrassing me.” She’d then reply “Jenni, who cares? I’m having fun.”
She worked as a cashier at a local Shoprite and I can’t exactly remember why she started, but she used to use crafts supplies to make elaborate hats for each and every holiday that she would wear during her work hours. All her coworkers loved this, and she became known as the “crazy hat lady.” She would often tell me stories about how customers would come to her checkout line just to get her new hat ideas.
The more I think back on those times, the more I realize that she had this awesome ability to be happy, and that was all she cared about. She didn’t care if others were embarrassed or if she looked a little dorky. Doing those things made her feel good inside. Many times, we get so caught up in day-to-day life that we just go through the motions and we forget to just take a second to actually live and feel alive. I can honestly say that my aunt felt alive every day of her life.
She taught me to always be kind and give to others.
My Aunt never had a lot of money, but she’d use her last dollar to buy me anything I needed, and even things that I didn’t. It makes me laugh thinking about how every time I saw her, she used to bring over at least five boxes of my favorite flavored Coffee K-cups for my Keurig, two boxes of fruit snacks, deodorant for me to use, and even dog treats for my dog Mollie.
Also, I don’t recall her ever getting mad at me. She was always telling me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. She was a very positive person who saw the good in everyone and everything. There are not many people like that in this world anymore.
She taught me to keep myself busy even when I am old.
Aunt Donna was 72 when she passed, but you couldn’t tell that just by looking at her. She wasn’t the type of old lady who sits in front of the television watching game shows while she knits. My aunt worked up until the day of her death. She also played bingo and card games twice a week, was in a bowling league, and traveled often. Donna gave meaning to the phrase “age is just a number.”
There’s not a day that goes by now that I don’t think of her and miss her, but I’m very blessed that she has been such a strong positive influence in my life. I’m also grateful for these four life lessons she didn’t even know she taught me.
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