My cell phone was ringing, and as I grabbed it I could suddenly see that I had several missed calls and texts from my Dad. The last one said, "Call me as soon as you can." So by the time I said, "Hello" I was a little worried. He proceeded to tell me that my Aunt Tami had passed away that morning. I was shocked. I had just teased her on facebook as she had posted about her surgery on Monday (4 days earlier) that it might be time to let someone else have all the interesting medical stories. The surgery went well; it was to repair a hernia and fix an abdominal wall perforation. She was back home and posting on facebook. This was the tail end of her journey. She had finished her chemo for breast cancer and was doing well. I think that is why her death caught us all seemingly off guard. We thought she was on the up and up. We just didn't realize she had a rocket trajectory way up.
I have quickly assembled some photos that will only partly tell how special my aunt Tami was to me. When I was first born she lived with my parents and she spoiled me. She fed me ice cream when she shouldn't. She held me. She played with me. She never let me forget it either. Right before she got married I remember staying at my grandparents home in Palm Desert, CA. Tami and I shared a bed and she would climb in bed and snuggle with me just like she was my mom.
She opened her home and her houseboat to all of us and we spent so many summers with her and Chuck and their kids skiing and tubing and having a great time.
Here is a picture of her and my mom from my wedding.
And then when my mom got sick, Tami was there. As were all 5 of my mom's sisters. They rushed to be by her side. They took turns -- sort of or at least some of them did because it really seemed like once Tami got there, she never left.
She was cleaning the house (with all cleaning agents that had no odor!) She was grocery shopping. She was cooking the meals.
She was talking to my mom and helping her finish all of her projects. She was rubbing her feet and rubbing her back.
And more than anything for me, she was there to help take care of my kids so I could be with my mom. She LOVED my little Owen and played with him all day.
She let my older girls fix her hair.
She was making airport runs and dinner dates with her other siblings when they all needed a break.
She was just there for whatever we needed. Sometimes she had her own room. Sometimes she shared. My parents home is not the biggest and yet during the end of my mother's life it seemed to expand to an unlimited capacity as so many loved ones came to be with her.
Here she is with my mom the last time my mom came out of her bedroom. Tami was getting her a drink and making sure she was OK.
And this is her making all the calls to let everyone know my mother had passed away.
Here she is watching the van pull away with my mother's body. She literally watched over her with all of us until the very end.
Here she is at the funeral.
And here were all the remaining siblings at the cemetery.
I just always thought we'd have decades worth of photos of my mom's 6 siblings. But I guess it was not to be. Tami checked in on me over the last year and half. She sent me my mom's favorite poem in a frame. I am going to miss her so.