Monday, March 18, 2013

In Memory

At the start of this school year, I had our schedule planned, typed out, and awaiting its commencement.  I was excited that I had everything outlined so well and was expecting a smooth year.  Well, what was I thinking?  You may remember that my father-in-law's illness and death in November threw a wrench into things.  The blog suffered and my posts thinned out for a bit.  It's only natural.  There are very many things more important than a schedule.  But, I vowed to get things back on track quickly.  And it turns out, when things were finally getting back to normal from his passing, and things on the schedule and the blog were finally coming together again, we hit another unexpected detour -- the tragic death of my dear Aunt Wendy. 
Let me tell you a little bit about my aunt, this wonderful person who left our lives too soon.  She was amazing.  She was smart, beautiful, sunny, hard working, and loved her family and the Florida Gators.  She was silly, kind, and loved children, especially her own.  She loved the color yellow, she loved sunflowers, and Winnie the Pooh.  She was a loving mother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.  And more pertinent to you ... she was an awesome teacher. 
I am only eight years younger than my Aunt Wendy, and I recall at about thirteen, the days when she would take me along to her college classes and let me help her on some of her projects.  We'd spend hours together, talking, laughing, and cutting out shapes for bulletin boards.  I cherished those times with her and I can't help but think it helped me on this journey I'm on with Maggie.
This is a photo of Wendy and I, when I was her Maid of Honor.  (I was tickled that she asked me to wear her prom dress for the occasion.)
Wendy was enthusiastic about her work and did it well.  Her fellow teachers loved her and her students loved her.  She was an inspiration to everyone she met.  I remember when I decided to start homeschooling Maggie, I felt a lot insecure about what Wendy would think about that.  I worried she'd note that I was missing some important steps, or have thoughts on how I could be doing things better.  I knew Wendy could blow me out of the water when it came to educating a child, but I was determined to do my best for Maggie.  And I think I've done well so far.  I think Wendy would definitely approve of all the hands-on things we do in our studies.  (I have her notes from some of her science classes, and she was a big advocate of utilizing gummy bears, graham crackers, and licorice whips to make a lesson more meaningful.)  There is a Chinese Proverb that says, "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand."  I think of Wendy when I read that.
This past weekend, we all came together as a family to remember our dear, sweet Wendy.  She was so important to each one of us, and had something special with each one of us, something that was just ours with her.  I think she must have made each of her students feel that way, too.  There were more people in attendance at her service than I have ever seen at any other service, very many of them teachers and students, all mourning her passing.  Henry Adams once said, "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."  I believe this will be the case for Wendy's influence.  She is so incredibly missed by everyone. 
I was never Wendy's student, but as her niece, she taught me many things over the course of my time with her on this Earth.  She is still teaching me some of life's greatest lessons, like the importance of family.  Through her passing, our family has a renewed sense of closeness and we all give Wendy that credit.  We all feel like she orchestrated the same, and we are so grateful to her.
My sweet Aunt Linda framed a lovely picture of Wendy for me, which I put above my desk.  I know that she is looking down on me from Heaven, and so I thought it appropriate to place her beautiful face on my top shelf in our classroom.  I know she will inspire me and encourage me through this homeschooling journey with Mags.  I hope to make her proud. 
I love you, Wendy.  I can't wait until we are together again. 

Father in Heaven, please keep our Wendy in Your loving arms until we can get Home to her.  Amen.