True Blood

Aunt-Ann-picThe sun lit the pale blue sky, eagerly, I suspected, after three days of dense rainy weather.  Hungry for breakfast, I left our house, tracked around the saw horses and piles of plywood enroute to our detached garage. Kitchen remodel, about six weeks in. If you believe the contractor, we’re half way through. Outside, the crisp thirty-three degree air carried the hymn of clanging church bells, welcoming, celebrating the beginning of a glorious Sunday morning.

Yesterday’s passing cold front brought an unexpected shift in weather. I was, however, fairly certain that it had nothing to do with my insides swirling with the force of a northern gale. The quiet morning, uplifting anthem, suddenly reminded me of her. My aunt Ann. Her life. And recent departure.

Now I realize any death in every family is a loss. Every life lived significant. But for me, Aunt Ann’s passing provided an opportunity for reflection. A chance to contemplate how one person’s actions could shine so significantly. Incidentally, without intention, but still shaping me into who I am.

I think it’s safe to say that we’re all raised to love the members of our own family. Parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and even pets. My family was no different in that respect, but we did have one unique exception. Loving and caring for others with no blood relation. Now on the surface this seems like no great feat. No arduous task. Simple as saying the “I love you” words. But as I move through life, I’ve found very few people who wholeheartedly offer such an open-hearted inclination. Aunt Ann did. Every chance she had. If someone was hungry, she fed them. If a struggling parent could no longer care for a child, she took her in. Any broken heart that luckily crossed her path was certain to be soon on the mend.  People struggling, with no blood line relation.

Without realizing, I watched her. She mentored without even knowing. And when I became an adult, I was changed in a way I didn’t understand, but constantly found myself drawn to volunteer at organizations who offered service.

Maybe it’s because half my family were immigrants, most of their immediate relatives scattered across the continents, that they didn’t require the same surname to care, to help and love. Or chalk it up to the luck of the Irish, an inadvertent head knock on the blarney stone that showed them the only way to expand the true nature of your heart is to increase the number of fellow humans you allow yourself to love.

Ann Chambers granted me a great gift. An awareness that’s beyond the physical exterior, deep beneath my skin, behind my ribcage, beating tirelessly in the center of my chest. Her spirit breathes inside me. Expands, evolves, and grows. Lives on, making the world a little kinder, the way Aunt Anne did.




  1. Shawn Lenaghan on October 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Right you are. We were fortunate to have a positive role model such as Ann in our lives. The most precious gift a person can give is a gift of self.

  2. Colleen Chambers Oenning on October 27, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    My mother would have loved your sky to soul description of her dutiful and loving life. Thank you and I’ll pass it on to my brothers and sisters.
    Colleen Chambers Oenning

  3. Mary Chambers Phillips on October 27, 2012 at 9:12 pm

    My mother touched so many people in her life without even knowing she was doing it. Thank you for remembering her in such a wonderful way.


Leave a Comment