She was not my aunt personally but rather the mother of a woman that I've known for almost forty years - a member of my extended "nuclear family." She lived a long and reasonably happy life and was 93 when she finally succumbed to pneumonia. For all intents she really died about five years ago - a stroke and Alzheimer's left her in a bed in a nursing home with no hope of ever leaving it. Through most of her adult life she had been a girls gym teacher which is probably why her body didn't get the message that her brain was gone.
She had outlived many of course, and my friend is her only child, so it was a small funeral - a few old friends and coworkers, some former students, and those of us that know her daughter - possibly forty in total. A prayer at the funeral home, a mass, a last graveside prayer at the family plot, and then a luncheon for about twenty at a restaurant that had been her personal favorite. All very typical really and none of us in a hurry to do anything else except renew old friendships.
It was sad and yet it wasn't. It was an expected death. We'd all known for some time that we would be doing this, we just didn't know when. It wasn't the first time that we've been together for such an occasion, it won't be the last. At least four of those present are eighty or older, my own mother among them. Eventually of course it will be our turn as well. When we had finished I came home, changed, and began some yard work, just as I would on any other Saturday.
..... And yet of course it wasn't ordinary. I know that I'll be thinking about this for sometime. Even when it's been a long and full life, death is still death and none of us ever really get a handle on it. Maybe then, the lesson is to be reminded to live life - don't just exist through it, but rather grab it and create something and enjoy something. She did.
Thank you Aunt Frannie, may you rest in God's arms. You earned it.