In high school she tried to give me my first rescue dog. It was a white German shepherd mix, and even though I wasn’t allowed to keep her, I found her a good home. My Aunt Patzy found her wandering around on a road somewhere scared and hungry, and took her in.
I have one vivid memory of her before that, and that was when she babysat me, my brother and a couple of cousins at our grandparent’s house. I couldn’t have been very old, probably younger than five. After that, there was a family feud, so we didn’t see much of each other.
As a young adult, early in college, I sought her out to interview her for a class paper. I wanted to know what it was like for her as the primary caretaker for my grandfather who had Alzheimer’s disease. I learned a lot about her, and tried to make it a point to see her more often. She was a cool Aunt.
She spent her life stepping up for animals, and people in need. Through her church and other community organizations, she was out there trying to make a difference in this life. She didn’t talk much about the good she did out in the community, though. She was humble that way.
I wouldn’t have even known about some of it had I not run into her when I was working in the homeless program in Charleston West Virginia. She was next door at the other shelter working. By then I was 29, and realized there was so little that I knew about this woman.
She was also our family historian. She tracked our genealogy, and was my go-to person in the family to get information about medical histories.
If ever there was a woman put on this earth to take care of others, sacrificing her own happiness to do so, it was my Aunt Patzy.
When I saw her in May at my niece’s graduation party, I had never seen her look so light and free. Finally married and happy, she was looking forward to retiring and doing some of the things she enjoys.
Getting the news that she died Monday was very sad. It felt wrong that I wasn’t at her memorial service yesterday in West Virginia, so I spent some time remembering her in my own way instead.
If you believe in angels, and that good humans can be those angels when they die, and that angels can guide us, then you can believe that Aunt Patzy will be out there somewhere directing people to do more good deeds in this life.