Three days ago I lost a family member, My Aunt Gayle. She actually was my father’s first cousin, but I’ve always thought of her as my Aunt. She was a firecracker of a woman. She was as wide as she was tall, loud and full of joy. She was warm, compassionate and always ready and willing to help anyone in need. She married late in life and had no children of her own. She met her husband Max, while working in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. In fact she ran the hospital. She might have been small in stature but she had a BIG personality. One time while working in the maternity ward of a hospital in Africa, she was tending to a mother in distress. There were complications with the birth and the husband of the woman started yelling and shouting orders at my aunt. She immediately took charge and said, ” I’m sorry sir, you need to sit down and be quiet or I will have to have you leave. In this hospital, I rule, not you!” That man was Idi Amin, President of Uganda and a notorious, dangerous dictator known for horrific acts of violence and cannibalism!
Yes, this 5 foot nothing woman had an inner strength that could stop a dictator in his tracks. Unfortunately, my Aunt Gayle spent her last years battling dementia and her last days were spent alone in a senior’s home. Covid prevented her from having visitors and loved ones around her when she passed. Many families have had to face this and its sad. No one wants their loved ones to feel that they are forgotten, especially in their final hours.
For years, I’ve had a recurring dream that I am watching a funeral…mine. I can see an altar, pictures of me placed at the front but there are no flowers and no people. It’s a terrible dream. I have passed away but no one comes to my funeral. No one! I always wake up from this dream crying. Would that really happen? Would no one care enough for me to come? How would I be remembered…if at all?!
When you are told you have cancer, you are immediately faced with your own mortality. Fortunately I am “knock on wood” cancer free now, but that thought of “my life could be over soon” stays with you. Have I lived a good life? Have I seen and done everything I wanted? Will people remember me fondly? Will I BE remembered?
The last three years have been very hard for me physically and emotionally. I have shared that and I don’t regret that I have. I can’t pretend that cancer hasn’t fu#ked me up. I am in constant pain due to chronic nerve damage. I don’t sleep well as the pain wakes me up every hour on the hour. I suffer from anxiety attacks that at any second can reduce me to a puddle of tears and I live in fear that every bump, lump or twinge that I feel may be cancer returning. That said, do I sit around moping? No. Do I do my very best to stay positive? Yes. Do I cherish every moment I have now with friends and family? Most certainly!
Now that things are starting to slowly open up as more and more people are getting fully vaccinated, I am so looking forward to spending time with people I haven’t seen in ages. Between cancer and covid, I have experienced a lot of isolation as have so many others in the world. It makes you realize just how important it is to maintain friendships; to keep in touch and to remember how much we need and love each other.
My Aunt Gayle will be remembered for the woman she was; loving, kind, compassionate and full of life. She will be missed but most of all she WILL be remembered.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.