Get to Know the Angels in your Life

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(This post is dedicated to my sister-in-law Anne, who passed from this life on 10/22/2011 at 57 years old.)

As I write this I am sitting in a plane heading home from California, the day after attending the funeral of my sister-in-law Anne.  She was diagnosed with cancer in July and, three months later, on October 22nd she Candles on Altarpassed from this life at the young age of 57.  Oh, how quickly someone can be taken away from a loving family and friends.  It makes you sit back and think a little bit more about your life and how you are living it.

It was a very moving funeral service with five different people eulogizing her life, each one as eloquent as the previous, honoring a wife, mother, baby sister, and close friend.  This was the first funeral I attended since the death of my father over a year ago.  It hit me hard and I welled up with tears on numerous occasions.  My brother Joe was stoic throughout the ceremony and his eulogy, but his tears were shed before this day, within the past few weeks, when he knew it was just a matter of time before his loving wife would be by his side no more.  A rather strange and cruel twist of fate turned out to be the fact that Anne’s youngest brother Bill passed away two days earlier from the same illness.  So, within a few days, family members attended two funerals only to be left with mere memories of their loved ones.

I can honestly say that I didn’t truly know my sister-in law.  We lived 3000 miles away from each other and saw each other’s families about once a year.  When she spent time with our family it was so much fun.  She had a quick wit and a hearty, contagious laugh.  One regret I do have is not making a real effort to get to know her better.  When they visited I typically concentrated on spending time with my oldest brother, a man I admire and for which I have the utmost respect.  Hearing the many accolades from family and friends at the funeral opened my eyes to the kind, selfless, and caring person Anne truly was.
Casket with Roses
I was fortunate to have spoken on the phone to Anne approximately two weeks before she passed.  I told her I was praying for her and she said that she felt truly blessed and rather overwhelmed by the heartfelt outpouring of love showered upon her in those declining months and weeks.  Those sentiments were echoed yesterday at the most moving ceremony honoring an individual that I have ever had the opportunity to witness.  Shortly before her death, as my brother recanted in his eulogy, Anne awoke in her bed one night and uttered to Joe “I am happy”.  I think that gave my brother some solace in a rather turbulent and tragic time of his life.

My brother and niece will be fine. They are strong, as are Anne’s three children from her first marriage.  Her brother, the last remaining sibling, will forever hold onto the loving memories of his baby sister.  At the post-funeral reception at my brother’s house I spoke to a woman who had five daughters who attended the school where Anne had worked.  She described Anne with a rather glowing tribute.

“She was an angel who walked among us.”

I just wish I got to know that Anne, the one that the people who came in contact with her on a regular basis, knew and loved.  Don’t make the mistake I did.  Get to know the angels in your life because, you never know, they may be taken from you much too soon.

Rest in peace Anne. We will all miss your wit, your hearty laugh, your caring nature, and your beautiful smile.

8 thoughts on “Get to Know the Angels in your Life”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I, of course, wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but it’s nice to hear that was so appropriate. I also wish I had the opportunity to get to know Aunt Anne better, but we have to feel lucky for the time we had instead of lamenting on the time we lost.

    Love you,

    • Hi Honey,
      It is hard not to think about the fact that she passed at such a young age but, you are right, we should think about the fun we all had together. I wish the whole family could’ve been there but it simply wasn’t possible. It was a fitting tribute to a special person.


  2. Thanks Bob, that was really very nice. I loved spending time with all you “boys” and mom and Aunt Helen. From that short amount of time we were together I can tell that you are all very loving and a blessing in each others’ lives.

    • Hi Terry,
      Thanks for all the work you did in the kitchen! If my wife was able to be there she would’ve been at your side. We are lucky to have family as those are the people in our lives that we can count on. Give my best to Coleman.



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