I returned this week from Eugene Oregon after flying up for a couple of days to attend a funeral for my Aunt Peg. She was 91.
At first you might say, “Wow, what a long life!” But my heart replies, it was still too short.
You see, I just had this feeling she would always be around. Her husband, my uncle “Pinky,” is 94 years young and still goes golfing twice a week.
Every couple of years we would plan another 850 mile trek to visit her and her family in Oregon. That’s the way it’s always been.
My parents divorced when I was six years old. Maybe because of that my mom, Aunt Peg’s younger sister, would often let me go spend several weeks during summer vacations with my cousins, Aunt Peg’s family. When I was 19 years old my mom died.
Yes, she was my aunt, but she was really more like a second mom – the only “mom”-in-law my wife has known. Pretty much a “grandma” to my daughter.
Peggy Murphy was a strong woman, she had to be. Raising a family while married to a career Marine who was often gone wasn’t easy. She had six children but lost one who died at birth. A son, who like my uncle joined the marines, was killed in Vietnam. And her youngest daughter was born with Cerebral Palsy.
Raising my cousin with CP to be the strong independent woman she is took a real balance of compassion, understanding and tough love. My aunt didn’t let her daughter get away with much. But honestly, that’s not really true. My aunt in many ways pampered her. Aunt Peg’s love and compassion overruled all else.
She was the most loving and joy filled woman, wife and mother I have known.
For me Aunt Peg was the face of God – the heart of God. I don’t remember receiving anything but love and acceptance from her. If it had been 3 or 4 years since we last visited, I never got a “Why haven’t you come up to see me sooner?” I never heard during my too infrequent phone calls, “You hardly every call,” or ” When can I expect you to call again?”
It was always, “Thank you for making the long trip up here,” or “It’s so good to see you,” or at the end of a call, “It’s been so much fun talking with you.” She simply took such delight in being with us.
Thinking about my aunt, it seemed to sink in. I believe God is the same way. He takes great delight in any time I spend with him in prayer, or simply dialoguing with him throughout the day about anything and everything. I too often mistakenly default to thinking God’s in a constant state of disappointment or disapproval because of my continued failures and shortcomings. But it’s not true. Jesus took care of that.
It’s not about what I have or haven’t done. God patiently waits. When I look to him in simple prayer, or frustration, or great joy, he finds such pleasure in our time together. That’s it.
God loves our time together, not for his sake, but for mine. Like a father who loves time with his child. The child truly receives much more of a lasting impact from the time together.
Aunt Peg’s love, like God’s, was unconditional. Even in death, it’s having a wonderfully beautiful influence on my life.
I love you, Aunt Peg. I miss you.