For years Aunt Ed gave us Thin Mints for Christmas. She
would meticulously wrap each rectangular box and tie a
small bow on each one. In the early years, name tags
would be on the boxes with our names written in her neat
penmanship. As she aged, she continued to wrap the Thin
Mints but name tags no longer accompanied each box. We
each received one and it really did not matter that our
names were not on the wrapped boxes any more. We knew
Aunt Edís memory was failing. She probably just could
not remember the names of all her nieces and nephews and
great nieces and great nephews.
Like many older people Aunt Ed enjoyed her sweets. When
our family dined at the local fish camp, she would add
seven or eights pack of sugar to the already sweetened
tea. My mother who was eight years younger than Aunt Ed
worried that she used so much sugar. It really did not
matter since Aunt Ed was already in her nineties then.
A couple of weeks before Christmas, Aunt Ed died at age
106. Her body finally succumbed to the natural process
of dying. My friend Becky sang to her that morning and
bade her goodbye. My sister Miriam took our mother, Aunt
Edís only living sibling, to see her one last time.
Within ten minutes of their visit, Aunt Ed closed her
eyes and died. She died with dignity, embracing her
death, not hooked up to medical machines trying to
prolong her life.
Earlier that morning, I connected with Aunt Ed
spiritually to make sure her body and spirit understood
what was happening. Her words to me through spirit were,
ďYou may think I am dying but I am just now beginning to
live. Yes, my precious body wonít be here much longer
but my soul sure will be. Thank you for understanding my
decision to leave.
ďChristmas is such a good time to die. Everyone is
usually happy and joyful at Christmas and that is how I
want you to be with my dying. Christmas is about loving
and sharing and that is what I want you to do.Ē
Aunt Ed did a lot of loving and sharing in her 106 years
on earth. She was reliable and steadfast in important
matters and also in gestures like giving us Thin Mints
In times of economic uncertainty we would do well to
learn from Aunt Ed who lived through a world war,
economic depression, and segregation. In a manís world
she made a place for herself and she never looked back.
She was a woman who survived the death of her only
child, who never saw her son mature into a teenager. She
was a woman whose husband turned alcoholic and died a
young man. These tragedies would have soured many a
woman, but not Aunt Ed. Refusing to be a victim, she
made a good life for herself. She was independent and
strong willed. She was generous and loving.
Aunt Edís home was the gathering place for family
get-togethers. She opened her home to her elderly mother
who lived with her until her death at age 92. She kept
her mother at home even after she was in a coma for
several days. Before dying, her mother opened her eyes
and smiled at her nine children standing around her bed.
She opened her home to boarders and rented a room to a
young blind woman with her companion dog. When her
sisters Ollie and Bertha became widows, they came to
live with her. She seemed to hold things together for
Aunt Ed was intelligent and quick minded. She loved to
play cards and bingo and was not above cheating to win
When faced with an obstacle, Aunt Ed figured out a way
around or through the obstacle. After she failed the eye
test to renew her driverís license, she went to a
neighboring townís license office and passed the test
Within a year of our dadís death, Aunt Ed sold her house
and moved in with Mother. The day she left to live in a
residential home, she asked who would take care of
Pauline. Her concern was for her sister not herself.
Aunt Ed was frugal and had enough money to pay for
several years in a nursing home. When her funds were
depleted, she had to move to a home that accepted
Medicaid. She adjusted to the change of facilities and
eventually was wheel chair bound at Maple Leaf.
She became known as the classy lady who sped down the
hall in her wheelchair, sometimes bumping into other
wheel chairs to get to where she wanted to go. She liked
her Ensure and would take an extra carton off the food
tray when the staff was not looking. Later when she
could no longer go to the bathroom by herself or even
feed herself, she still smiled and said she was fine.
She just did not let life get her down.
Thin Mints will always remind me of my Aunt Ed and her
perseverance for life. May she be an inspiration to you
helping you around or through obstacles. May her spirit
accompany you through hard times and bring you joy in
good times. May we all have her qualities of being
independent, generous, and loving. Like Aunt Ed, may we
all be a positive force in the life of others.