Tribute to a Real Lady…and A Reminder to Always Make Time

It seems that I am meant to spend my time writing this week. An article for my blog, an article for the cancer foundation newsletter, an essay for a contest, and another one for submission to a magazine…and now, I am writing to share my memories of one of the few real ladies that I have met, my husband’s Aunt Thelma.

Last night, I was awakened by one of those dreadful phone calls that no one ever wants to receive. You see, we found out that Thelma had stage IV lung cancer only a month or so ago. And found out just this weekend that she had been in the hospital for most of that week, and was not doing very well at all. Then the phone rang at 10:30pm…NO ONE calls my house after 9pm, because EVERYONE knows that I will be in bed. It’s just the way it is. So when the phone rings at 10:30, you know it can’t be good news.

Ever since we received the first call to tell us she had cancer, we’ve been trying to figure out when to go up and see her. But you know how it is, life seems to get in the way of the things you want and know you need to do, and then somehow time gets away from you and weeks have gone by before you even realize it. And then…there is no more time. You’ve missed your chance. The opportunity to spend time with someone you care deeply for has passed you by, and you’ll never have that chance again.

Thelma married Jim, Brad’s mom’s only sibling. Thelma was also his mom, Lois’ best friend, even before either of them were married. Lois died almost 19 years ago to kidney cancer; and she and I were really only getting to know each other when she died. I felt like I had lost the chance to have a beautiful friendship, and Thelma helped to ease that emptiness by sharing her memories of the Lois she knew and loved. Thelma stepped up and shared her stories of a much younger Lois, a Lois that I never knew, that her son never knew. She filled in the gaps for me, helping me to more fully appreciate and love the mother-in-law that I would never have. But she also filled the void left behind Lois’ death by sharing a grandmother’s love with my young children when they most needed a grandmother’s love.

We never spent a lot of time with Thelma and Jim. But when we did, we were welcomed like honored guests. Each time we visited, my sons were treasured and petted, allowed to explore to their hearts’ content, and treated like little princes. They always loved to visit Uncle Jimbuck and Aunt Themma (little boys do have difficulty with L’s, you know!) And each time we visited, I felt almost as if I once again had a mother-in-law. Yes, that truly is a blessing, when the mother-in-law is as loving and ladylike as Thelma.

I know that Thelma is at peace, no longer in pain and no longer suffering. She is with her Father in Heaven, and as my sister-in-law said this morning, I am sure that Lois was first in line to greet her. But she will be sorely missed here on earth by many. And I will always wish that I had made the effort to see her, to visit with her, to bask in her graceful presence…just once more.

My prayer for you tonight is that you learn from my mistake and always remember to take the time, make the time, to spend the time with those you love…even those who are far away. Each moment will be a treasure of great price in years to come, and worth the sacrifices you make now in order to gain them.

August 2000 — One of the rare times we took a photo with two of our favorite folks

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