When it comes to family, Mom is sentimental. Her happiest memories revolve around a creative childhood filled with imagination and family members who tolerated her and her imaginary friends, often playing along. Claire and Ellen; Bubba (Little D) and Stephanie; Darrell and Brandi; Malcolm, Trisha, Harlowe and Kathy are just some of the cherished cousins who doubled as the big siblings Mom never had.
The family is a large one. Mom's own Mom is one of eight. It's hard to keep up with that many kin folk, but the love for each other exists no matter how much time, distance or families of their own affect that kinship. After all, blood is thicker than that.
Aunt Fran is a part of Candy's Land. She is the one who often surprises Mom and gets it right every time with special packages that arrive in the mail filled with vintage, French and sweet sentiments that make Mom's heart sing.
Today, Aunt Fran had to deliver different news, and Mom's heart is sad. Aunt Fran's daughter Kathy left this world this morning. For a while now, Kathy has fought hard and brave against the odds of aggressive, unrelenting, unfair cancer. And Mom hurts that her dear Aunt Fran had to see one of her children leave this earth far too soon.
Still, while Mom mourns, she smiles when she thinks of her cousin Kathy. In addition to caring for Mom growing up, Kathy spent a career caring for others as a nurse. Kathy also cared for their grandfather during his final days, just a few fall seasons ago.
Right now, in a Kingdom far beyond this earth, Kathy and Grand-Pa-Pa are also smiling. They're smiling because they haven't seen each other in while. They are smiling at how beautiful and handsome they both are. And they are smiling because Grandmother Lura and Uncle Joe are grateful to have more family gathered around a glorious table. And they are smiling because, after all, this world that cousin Kathy just left is going to be a much better place with guardian angels made up of more Cox and Laniers looking over it.
Hospice has been a wonderful blessing to so many. In honor of cousin Kathy and all who we have lost due to cancer and terminal illness, donate to your local hospice in their memory.
To Aunt Fran: Candy Lou and your niece love you.
Pictured is Mom's third birthday spent among her family that (from the top pic) includes Cousin Stephanie, Dad and Mom; Cousins Little D and Harlowe; Grand-Pa-Pa; Cousins Kathy (now an angel) and Trisha