“Aunt Linda died this morning”, my mom said on the phone. What? My mind stopped. I couldn’t believe it. No not this soon. I am heartbroken. “You know there would be no you without Aunt Linda, she is the one who introduced me and your dad”. 10 minutes later my dad calls to tell me the same sad news and later says, “You know if it weren’t for Aunt Linda I would have never met your mom and we wouldn’t have had you.” So I guess I owe my life to Aunt Linda LOL!
Linda Parmley Cole was a tough no nonsense kind of person that I admired who wasn’t my Aunt but my 1st Cousin. My dad’s brother, her father was so much older than him that my Aunt Linda and Dad grew up like brother and sister. She didn’t take any BS and said what she thought. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in February of this year and is gone 3 months later.
Ironically last night I had a dream I was speaking at her Celebration of Life. It was a Celebration of Life rather than a Eulogy because that is how Aunt Linda lived. If I were speaking I think I would share the following examples and lessons I learned from my Aunt Linda.
1) Family First – I remember when I first heard Linda’s husband Vern talk about our purpose in life “to have and raise kids.” I was a single feminist then and it wasn’t until I had my own kids that I would understand that to be true. Linda and Vern’s life is a great example of a close knit family. They work together and live within minutes of each other. I would eventually mimic that living next door to my mom and grandparents for 7 years and now my husband’s parents. There is a real joy in being close to family.
2) Work Ethic – Linda had one of the strongest work ethics of anyone I ever knew. She was an extremely valuable resource to her company Victory Packaging. A company that when they found out she was sick made every effort to help her letting her work from home, flying her family to California so they could participate in a ½ marathon the company sponsored for Linda.
3) Jokes – Linda was a lover of jokes. When the internet and email came into her life I think she was a little addicted to her email and sending jokes. She loved what she loved and probably made a lot of people laugh with all her Forwards of Jokes. It’s a Parmley trait. Her uncle Starr (my dad) loves jokes too and always made his students submit a joke for extra credit on their tests.
4) No Grudges – Although I don’t know for true I think Linda was the type of person who let things go. She embraced her husband’s children from his first marriage and loved my mom even when my dad and her got divorced. Although I can’t say the rest of my dad’s ex-wives have fared as well with that no grudges thing…
5) Delegate Cooking – I learned this from Linda too. She didn’t cook… I mean she could open a can of soup, make toast and cook on celebrations but she didn’t cook. You would always find her and Vern several nights a week out to dinner, and I always remember seeing her and Vern through the window at the Foursome diner when I would drive by on Friday nights. It seemed like every Friday night there they were. I took this skill to heart and delegated my Aunt Shirley to cook for us a night a week and instilled a Friday night eat out plan in my own house.
6) Celebrate Celebrate – I always remember Aunt Linda’s house at Christmas time and allllll those presents under the tree. I think she loved the holiday and celebrating with her kids and later grandkids. I also think having Linda at a party made it a good one. When she wasn’t at a family reunion or party she was missed.
Every Tuesday night they had an Open House at their home where friends, neighbors and Aunt Shirley would come to visit. Everybody loved it and I have to admit I might implement that fun social gathering at my home too when my kids are a little older.
7) Stay Active – My Aunt Linda was 60 something when she passed. Compared to a lot of women her age, she was in good shape. She was still playing softball last summer and I would guess might have played better than some girls 20 years younger than her. She would go and see the Chiropractor when she needed it, get massages, and come see me for Raindrop Therapies. She also did sun therapy… yes tanning beds but I really think it helped to keep her so healthy this long. I think Vitamin D levels are a pivotal part of good health.
8) Love Your Grandkids – She loved her grandchildren. She loved taking them to breakfast, watching them, buying them gifts for their birthdays and yes spoiling them. My mom took some good lessons from Aunt Linda and spoils my children just like her.
9) Clean Out Your Laundry Vent – Every time I do the laundry I hear my mom’s voice… clean out that Laundry Vent Remember Aunt Linda had a fire from not cleaning out her vent. So I clean out that Laundry Vent every time and think of Aunt Linda. (My mom now says she doesn’t know if that was Aunt Linda or another Aunt, but regardless I like the fact that I will always think of Aunt Linda when I clean the Laundry Vent.)
10) Love God – I live in a culture now here in the South where there is a church on every corner but Loving God and Loving People is sometimes forgotten. Linda wasn’t a churchy, Jesus preaching person but she loved God. Through how she lived her life I know without a doubt where my Aunt Linda is now… she is in Heaven. This is why I consider my Aunt Linda a Woman of Faith. She Loved God and People.
There are many of us who are heartbroken right now with the loss of Aunt Linda but we can hold on to the happiness that she is with Jesus now… Probably making Him laugh by telling Him a joke.
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