Monday, August 1, 2011

How best to honor someone

My great aunt recently passed away.  She was an amazing person and I always loved her visits when I was growing up.  She was a bit different than most people.  She married and got divorced sometime in the 60's or early 70's.  She was a teacher and later adopted a teenager.
My grandmother, her sister, also was a bit unique.  Her husband died when my father was quite young.  She raised two kids as a single mom in the 50's and 60's.  So these two sisters never quite fit the mold of that era!
And both had very unusual names (Oravilla and Lavonne).  So in any case, I was always a bit in awe of my Aunt Ori.  She would visit us and bring old school books as gifts.  We always got a $2 bill for every holiday.  She had a heart for Russia and would travel there to some sister city - and this was in the 80's when not many people wanted to go to USSR/Russia.
When I graduated college, my sister and I drove from Tacoma, WA back to the midwest.  We spent a night with my aunt.  And we quickly realized during that visit that she was no longer all the way with it.  She still only believed in eating chocolate for every meal (there really wasn't any other food in the house except chocolate things- maybe that is where I get it from!)  She wanted to drive us around town (and it had been a year since a major flood literally wiped out half the town) but she couldn't find her purse or keys.  We scoured the entire house, and low and behold we found the purse in the washing machine.  Of course that is where someone would keep a purse.  So that was the tip off that things weren't quite right anymore.  Soon after that she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and had to move out of her house.  I only saw her a few times after that visit.  She got in trouble at the assisted living home because she kept trying to get other people to escape with her -at the ripe old age of 85!  I think she wanted to go to the casino or something.  So despite the dementia - she maintained her sense of just being a bit different and desperately wanted her independence.
Ori- on our visit home from college.
And earlier this summer- 11 years after that visit- she passed away.  She had always been frugal and had managed to save quite a bit of money.  I was shocked to find this out as she left all of us something.  Now the question comes down to - how do I honor her?  We will most likely put the money into the college funds of the munchkin and tank.  She clearly loved being an educator, and I think ensuring future generations get a good education would make her happy.  But I also want to do something a bit out of the ordinary.  Just because that is the kind of person she was.  Perhaps I should go get a roll of $2 bills (can I still find them?  I remember store clerks thinking that they were fake!) and randomly hand them out to strangers.  But I have been struggling with this.  How do you honor someone that remembered you in their will?  If you have any ideas, let me know.  And once I decide on something, you will probably read about it!

And did I mention that she loved to find agates? She would find them and polish them.  On our visit, we found an entire attic filled with cases of agates!  Wonder what happened with all of those rocks?

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