Tuesday evening, my Aunt Christine died. She and my mother were the oldest and youngest, and last two surviving, of 12 siblings.
Aunt Chris was born in 1922. Think about that. She was born before the Great Stock Market Crash and the Depression. I know the basics of her life. She was born and grew up in southwest Mississippi. She moved to New Orleans where she met and married George Cowan. The two of them had four sons, three of whom lived to adulthood. She had ten grandchildren and numerous great grandchildren.
When my aunt died, she left behind few material possessions. By age 97, she had given away most everything except for some pictures and mementos. Yet, she leaves behind something more important: a legacy.
Aunt Chris was a strong woman of the twentieth century. She spent most of her life in the domestic sphere, but she worked hard and was productive. She raised three boys to manhood. She also helped in the raising of several of her nieces.
Aunt Chris loved to sing and was in her church choir. She was involved in many aspects of her church through the years, even ministering to those in nursing homes when she was into her 80s.
What my aunt leaves behind in this world is people with memories. My mother was Aunt Chris' youngest sister. They were the oldest and youngest of the twelve siblings, born 24 years apart. Mom and Aunt Chris become close after Mom got married, almost 55 years ago. My mom was raising children while my aunt was helping to raise grandchildren. Nonetheless, they remained close.
Christine Cowan was an imposing woman of five feet, ten inches. She clearly got her height from my grandfather, who was over six feet, and not from my grandmother, who was five feet, two inches! She and Uncle George were something of an odd couple because he was five feet, five inches, at most.
When the two of them were together, Uncle George called his wife, "Baby." It was physically incongruous, but the appellation fit. He and Aunt Chris were a stable and loving couple who were together for 53 years, until Uncle George died over 15 years ago.
Aunt Chris and I used to have breakfast at Mom and Dad's while watching the birds outside the window. She would tell me stories about living in New Orleans in the 50s and 60s. I learned about how her infant son died during the Mardi Gras season close to seventy years ago. She told me about so many of her friends and family who have preceded her in death. I am the carrier of those memories now that Aunt Chris has died.
May we all remember that we take nothing from this life. Hold on to those that you love. Leave them with sweet memories of you when you leave this world. Leave a legacy of love like my Aunt Chris did.