July is a month rife with birthdays in our family. And today, quick on the heels of Independence Day, is the birthday of Auntie Glo. Beve's only sister, Glo, was born 57 years ago today. And if she was still alive to celebrate with us, it'd be one long extension of the 4th of July. When I first joined this family of giants, the tradition was to spend both days at the family's place on Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho. And when I say 'lake-place', I'm being generous. Actually it was a single-wide trailer. A SINGLE-WIDE trailer for a family whose smallest member stood 6 feet tall--the soon-to-be (because two of her brothers' wives were pregnant) 'Auntie' Glo. It was sardine city, that little trailer was. But you know what? After about two minutes I forgot how claustrophobic I felt surrounded by all those giants in that small place, because the largest personality, the one with the biggest heart, also made that little trailer expand with her. I don't know how she did it. She drew me in. She drew us all in. That was Auntie Glo's gift. She gave out "Make-it-to-the-lake" awards, pulled more tricks out of her bag than Mary Poppins.
That's the way Auntie Glo always was, you know. She'd call me up when I was frazzled within an inch of my life and say, "I want to come down and take the kids out to a movie." SERIOUSLY? Or she'd grab a couple of nephews, bring them to our house, where she cheered them on while they bounced up and down and all over our furniture. And she hopped on planes to get her Finnish niece fix when she hadn't seen them in a while. Because she loved-loved-loved our children. ALL of them. Every single one of her eight nieces and nephews she was crazy about. If you asked any of them, they'd tell you, there was just something about their Auntie Glo that was different than anyone else in the whole wide world. She was more cheerful, laughed harder, loved life more, cared more about them, than anyone else they know.
As her health worsened and her life wound down, we'd hear from her by phone. Sometimes there were long, rambling messages from her on the machine because she wanted to make sure she asked about every one of us, so we knew she cared. She survived so many significant health scares that it was hard to imagine she wouldn't always win the next battle, that someday something would lick that indomitable spirit.
But life ends on this earth, anyway.
And the last 20 months since she made her last phone call have left a crater in the heart of the giant family I now call my own. There have been so many times when I've ached to have her help as a nurse with the elders, when I've longed to hear her inimitable laugh on the phone, asking about "Steffi" or "Bethie" or "Johnson." And I'm not alone in missing Auntie Glo.
Her funny cards on our birthdays, and for no particular reason at all.
Her daily checking in with her dad and Thyrza, and always signing off by saying, "I love you, Dad."
Her chuckling and rolling her eyes at her brothers, and always laughing, never complaining (and believe me, she could have!). SK just told of a time when Auntie Glo was sitting beside her in our living room and asked, "Is it okay if I put Stumpy next to you?" then, laughing, put her leg that had had the foot amputated on SK's chair.
Her thoughtfulness toward her large (and I'm talking LARGE) circle of friends.
Her incredible thoughtfulness toward her brothers--she always remembered birthdays, and Uncle R (here from Finland) just told me she made him a scrapbook that completely surprised him.
So from all of us, on this birthday, from those in this house, those across the state and those across the globe, we join together to sing Happy Birthday to our dear, funny, sarcastic, clever, faithful, Auntie Glo, now keeping the throne-room of God Himself in stitches.