When I grow up, I want to be like my Aunt Wanda.
She and my uncle were childhood sweethearts who always treated each other with such tenderness and spoke of each other with a great amount of love.
She got a two-year teaching degree and started teaching first grade. Later, she went back to school, while teach full-time and raising two kids, and got a four-year degree. A few years later, she got her Masters in Education.
She raised two sons, who are two of the nicest men you could probably ever meet.
She was my dad's sister, but she and my mom became close friends. Every time we saw my aunt, she and my mom would trade grocery bags full of paperback books.
She never forgot a birthday of any of her nieces or nephews and always sent a card or gift on time.
She attended my high school and law school graduation and my sister's high school graduation.
She taught first grade for thirty years at the same elementary school and was friends with everyone from the custodian to the principal.
She sang in the church choir, cooked and organized receptions for all the funerals, organized the volunteers who did maintenance and landscaping, and ran the whole Sunday school program.
When she came to my law school graduation, she brought a newspaper I had made at a family Easter celebration that she had laminated and saved for 14 years.
When my parents got divorced, she stayed close to both my parents and even drove three hours to help my mom move.
H and I had to attend marriage preparation classes before we got married, and we had to pick one couple whose marriage we wanted to emulate. H and I both picked my aunt and uncle.
My aunt went in for outpatient surgery about five years ago, and the doctors unexpectedly found ovarian cancer.
She went through two rounds of chemo and wore a wig that looked exactly like the hairdo she had been sporting since I was born.
She took a couple of trips to the Mayo Clinic.
During her battle with cancer, she continued to substitute teach (she was retired so just subbed a few days a week "for fun," as she said) and do a ton of volunteer work.
After fighting for three years, she passed away almost exactly two years ago.
At her funeral, the church was so full that they put closed-circuit televisions in the basement to accomodate everyone.
On September 16, I will be participating in a walk/run to honor my aunt, to support other women and families dealing with ovarian cancer, to raise awareness of ovarian cancer, and to raise money for research to help fight ovarian cancer. If you would like to help support me, you can click here to donate. Or if you would like to give money to support general cancer research, H and I are big supporters of the American Cancer Society.
Please don't feel any pressure to donate anything. I really just wanted to write this to hopefully raise some awareness for ovarian cancer and to remember my aunt.