Photo 365 #22: The beginning and the end

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.  -Seneca

This post has been percolating for a good week now.  Last Wednesday, I attended my great-aunt Janice‘s funeral with a heavy heart.  She passed away the morning of August 17, after years of battling an assortment of health problems.

Wednesday, August 20, was her 66th wedding anniversary.

Her husband, my grandma’s brother, Calvin, is still living, and I couldn’t help thinking that burying your wife was a hell of a way to spend your anniversary.  And despite Aunt Janice’s stated wish that we celebrate her life instead of mourning her death, there was a fair bit of mourning going on.  She was a wonderful lady, after all, and we miss her greatly.

It was a lovely funeral – their whole family turned up to see her off to eternity, which is saying something because they had four children still living in addition to 18 grandchildren and 32 great-grandchildren.  It’s been so long since I’ve seen some of those cousins that I couldn’t put names to faces – name tags would have been a huge help. 🙂  It was great fun visiting with them all again, but I wish the circumstances for the reunion could have been different.

Martha StahlThe strangeness of life’s ebbs and flows haunted me all day.  Wednesday was the first day of school for many area school districts.  It felt odd to happily send Bubbles and Miss Tadpole off to their first day of a new school year even as I was preparing to attend a funeral.

I recalled my own wedding day and the joy that I felt; I’m sure Uncle Calvin and Aunt Janice shared equivalent feelings 66 years ago.  I look forward to my wedding anniversary all year as a day I can relive that joy and excitement, and the thought of burying Seymour on our anniversary is utterly heart-wrenching.

The cemetery in which Aunt Janice is buried lies across the road from my grandparents’ old house.  Grandma and Uncle Calvin were raised there; my mom and my aunt were raised there; my sister lived there with our grandparents for several years.  Many of my relatives (though not my grandparents) are buried in this cemetery and, while this particular ending is not the reason I would have wished to be back in that cemetery, it did stoke my interest again in my family’s genealogy.  Once the graveside services had ended, a guided tour of family graves began, led by my aunt, who had spent a lot of time there in her youth helping to keep it up.  It was a nice way to remember those who’d come before, those to whom I owe my existence, until the clouds could restrain their tears no longer.

But, as the old saying goes, “When God closes a door, he always opens a window.”  Uncle Calvin and Aunt Janice were blessed to have each other for 66 years, and I am blessed to have known them both.  The world is a little darker without Aunt Janice here, but it doesn’t have to be.  Aunt Janice’s smiles were plentiful and bright, and I can take a page from her book and smile just like her.

But it will be hard.  When I returned from the funeral last week, I dove into a box of old pictures and started scanning them to share with my aunt.  I found myself longing to know these people, and wishing I had more pictures – I love old photographs, especially those of my ancestors.  The photo in this post is of my great-grandmother, Uncle Calvin and Grandma’s mother.  She and my great-grandfather are buried right next to Aunt Janice and, someday, Uncle Calvin will join them.

Another beginning, another ending.  Life’s funny that way.

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