The loss of my Aunt was tremendous. Not only was she my aunt but she was my godmother too and she took her responsibilities seriously. Every year on birthdays and holidays all of the kids in the family would receive savings bonds. She taught us at an early age the value of being financially savvy. She loved the finer things in life and saved her money to buy them. I don't believe that she ever used a credit card and every few years she would buy a new car - paid in full - so that she would not be indebted to anyone.
All of these things were simply amazing to me because my aunt was a domestic worker. She spent the majority of her days cleaning house and caring for a white family that lived in Sands Point -not far from our home. The photos of her wards lined her shelves, with places of honor right next to her blood relatives. I must admit that I sometimes felt a tinge of jealousy when I was young because her "children" had the benefit of spending so much time with the aunt that I loved so much. That jealously always quicklydissipated because Aunt Helen had enough love to go around.
In her death, as in life she was a caregiver. My aunt's savings helped to finance my education and I remember the day as a young undergrad a switch went off in my brain. I hadn't been applying myself to my studies, I was doing the minimum in school because I found it easy and could pull out a B in a pinch. But earning B's when you are an A student doesn't suffice and I realized that the hard work of my aunt paved the way to opportunity for me. I applied myself to my school work with fervor and on my next break from school I visited her grave site for the first time since her death 7 years prior and thanked her for all that she provided for me.
I've struggled for weeks trying to write the words that capture the beauty and effervescence of my Aunt Helen. She was a beautiful woman both inside and out, a lover of celebrations, always the life of the party and frequently the hostess. She lived a fairly long life, she died at 72 but there are many times when I wish she had more birthdays. Losing her to cancer made it easy for me to respond positively when I was asked to participate on the American Cancer Society's (ACS) Blogger Council. I want to support the efforts of the ACS, "a nationwide, community-based, voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service."
This post is dedicated to my aunt to celebrate her life and my wish that she had more birthdays. I encourage you to write a post dedicated to someone you love that was affected by cancer - perhaps write a post on your birthday dedicated to them. We want to raise awareness about this disease and I look forward to the day when we will all be writing celebratory posts rather than dedication posts.