I do not come from a close family. I was adopted and I have no idea who or where my birth parents are. Through death and attrition — meaning relatives who just decide to cut you out of their lives forever — I have no one left in my adoptive family. My daughter is my sole blood relative.
Then I married my husband and suddenly I became part of a huge, happy brood of parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins who, despite being scattered all over the country, remain emotionally close.
This big family can be overwhelming at times, but joining it’s membership has added so much to my life. Even before my daughter and I become officially part of the crew, we were already being included in family gatherings and celebrations. Since our wedding, many others have joined the family by marriage and birth.
The bond just seems to expand. There always seems to be room for one more.
Today my husband and I will leave for Indiana to say a final goodbye to his aunt, Carol Jones Kiley, who passed away on Saturday. If there was a matriarch of this bustling clan, it was Carol.
She was a hell of great lady. I feel grateful to have enjoyed her company at her lake house and at family gatherings. She was adorably funny and she made everyone feel like a lifelong friend. She made me feel like I belonged. She was a vibrant soul who loved her sister (my mother-in-law), her brother, her children, grandchildren, every niece, nephew and every spouse and child of every niece and nephew.
Her departure from this world leaves a Carol-shaped hole in many hearts.
She lived — at least from this newcomer’s observations — 77 years happy on this earth. I wish for her all the peace of her faith and the joy of reunion with those she will see again, including her beloved husband Mike.
While this will be a sad farewell, I just know that — since Carol was the life of the party — this family will celebrate her life and her eternal love, which extends to even the fringe members like me.
Godspeed, Aunt Carol. I will miss you. And God knows, I am not alone.