Tina’s tribute to her unforgettable aunt.
My Auntie Theresa was like my second mom. She lived in the same block her whole life in Mahnomen, the youngest of ten, my dad s youngest sister—so French and Indian was the history I heard about there...at Gramma’s, where Aunty Theresa lived until she married and moved next door. When there were over-the top-quarrels at home, we always felt safe at Gram and Theresa's.She’s done so many favors for me throughout my lifetime. She knew me so well… and I knew and understood her too.. She was always true to herself. I just can’t explain how one person could be so consistently good, and true... never sweetie sweet. Just truly kind and just... and smart and could bring people up with just one of her sassy remarks....Like when we would be playing cards—poker usually—and if she’d dropped out & I was wondering what to do next, she would look into my hand and say, "You‘ve got business!” with all her muster. I had instant courage.One time, when I was a freshman in HS… and was signing up for the next year’s classes, the French teacher said to me, "You don’t want to sign up for this class; this is just for kids who are going to college."I was so disappointed… and ashamed. When I went to Gramma’s at noon, I told Theresa about it. She didn’t get mad very often, but she did then. She said, "Doyle has no business saying that to you"… and there was no reason I couldn’t take that class.She clarified it for the administration too. She just walked right across the street (Gramma lived across from the school.) … and I was in French class.Charlie was a Dr in a small SD town where he spent his whole professional life . . . and was very well loved by the townsfolk. He has lived 80 years already and delivered 1600 babies into the world. Tended to sick and dying. He has run the gamut of emotion with these people he took so close to heart.When I informed him that my Auntie Theresa passed away today, he was very quiet at first. Then he asked me, “Do you remember the regular feature in the Readers Digest that was ‘My Most Unforgettable Person’?”“Oh sure.”"Well, if I had to write about my most unforgettable person, she would be it."“Really? Truly? You mean this?”“Yes, she was… in my whole life.”I could tell by the deepening tone of his voice, it was coming from the heart. It was genuine, it moved me so; all I could do was cry. Here was someone on the other end of the phone who had the same depth of emotion for the most important person in my life, even though he had such limited exposure to her.She knew me from my birth… in all ways for all time. She was my heroine. I wrote about admiring her in grade school and many times in my journal. It would be easy to understand how important a person she was to me.But for Charles, who cut such a wide swath on this earth, to say the same... those words seemed divine. Someone who'd brought 1600 babies into the world and saved countless lives… this remark meant so much. She was the most unforgettable person he had ever met in his life. *******Just back from Mahnomen. The funeral was yesterday. There were three priests, including Tony [close personal friend of Mother Teresa]. The current pastor said Auntie broke in the last 17 priests. Seated in the front were her five children, fifteen grands and twenty seven greats.So the young children were plentiful, like a whole classroom. There were some "Grandma Theresa” expressions, where the priest started it and the kids finished, like in school. "It’s not how tall you are, ………… IT S HOW TALL YOU ACT, they responded in unison.There were many stories about gardening (she loved). At the visitation, the grands had some funny, some touching, and some wise ideas they shared. The common thread was how highly they honored her, but more significantly, how she made each one of them feel special. It was her capacity to love, and hers just multiplied the more she gave away.There was so much love going around in that church ... it felt like the whole structure couldjust pick up off the ground and circle around in the clouds awhile.Kind of feel like I’m glowing … well, inside I am.
The love and meaning exuded by Auntie Theresa, Mister Rogers, and Pete Seeger arise, not from random chance, but from the SOURCE of LOVE and MEANING.