In Loving Memory of My Aunt Veronica Lynn Parker July 5, 1954 – July 18, 2014

breakfastwithauntvA year ago today, my Aunt Veronica (Ronnie) Lynn Parker passed away from colon cancer after cancer spread to her lungs and her liver. She had just turned 60 on July 5th. My Aunt Veronica’s sister, my Aunt Dana, was in the hospital when my Aunt Veronica passed. Aunt Dana had Stage IV lung cancer; she was 61. After seeing my Aunt Veronica for the last time, Cindy and I left the hospice center and went to the hospital to tell my Aunt Dana that her sister had left this earth. I did not know how we were going to tell her, and as it turned out, she knew when her eyes met mine. Six days after my Aunt Veronica passed away, my Aunt Dana also passed away. I loved my Aunt Dana, but I had a special bond with my Aunt Veronica that had begun when I was a little girl, and she was barely a teenager.

Not long before my Aunt Veronica left this earth, she told me that my Uncle Harold had once asked her, “What is it that makes you worry about Donna as you do?” I don’t believe my Aunt was able to answer the question, but I believe it was because I was born the underdog. I was the middle child, and I was different than my other two siblings, in many ways. My Aunt Veronica would come and spend part of her early teenage summers with her sister, my mother, and she spent this time protecting three children from an ugliness that children should never know. When I was a young teenager, she was still protecting me. I would call her in the middle of the night after her sister had spent the day drinking and becoming physically abusive. It was Aunt Veronica that would come out in the middle of the night to get me. One time I was sent to live with my dad in New York, another time I went to a girls’ home in Lakeland, Florida. It was my Aunt Veronica that bought me the clothes I took with me, as all I had were the clothes on my back.

One day, after leaving the girls home, I realized Florida was not far enough away to escape my mother’s abusive ‘middle of the night’ phone calls, and this prompted me to join the U.S. Navy. It was a way to escape my past, as well as my present, and to build a new life for myself. I returned to Florida a few times after this; one time to attend my grandmother’s funeral, on my dad’s side – two years later it was to attend my grandmother’s funeral, on my mother’s side. Eventually, I stopped returning to Florida, and although infrequent as they were, there were two people that I continued to call out of the blue; my Aunt Veronica and my cousin Pammy. My cousin Pammy was my Aunt Hazel’s daughter, and Aunt Hazel was my dad’s older sister. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that my Aunt Hazel and cousin Pammy took me for a summer during my childhood. My Aunt Hazel passed away coming up on five years, and that was an incredibly emotional time for me, and it was my Aunt Veronica that went with me to my Aunt Hazel’s service. I was left with several others as I was growing up – the underdog that I was, and although not mentioned here, I am grateful to all that took me in and loved me.

 

auntveronica

After not hearing from me for several years, my Aunt Veronica set about tracking me down. She worked at a bank and had the resources to locate me. It did not take her long to find me. She found the house I had bought; she called several people on the Naval Base until she found someone that would give her my office number. I will always remember the day I returned to my office and found a voicemail from my Aunt Veronica. I could not hold my tears back as I picked up the phone to call her back. One of her employees answered the phone and when I asked to speak with Veronica Parker, the woman that answered the phone became very excited and asked, “Is this her niece?” When my Aunt came on the line, it was quite the emotional long distance reunion. After I retired, I became a constant in my Aunt’s life. On my first visit to see Aunt Veronica and Uncle Harold, my aunt put on the Mercy Me CD and told me that when she passed on that she wanted a particular song played and she played I Can Only Image. My aunt was not yet sick, and it would be a couple of years after this that she would become ill while caring for my Aunt Dana.

Aunt Veronica was full of life. You always knew where you stood with her, and God forbid you to bring up the Tea Party or speak poorly about the Democratic Party. She was loyal to the end, for her party, as well as those she loved. She was intelligent, witty, loved to dance, and was always up for a good time. We would spend hours on the phone talking and laughing. She was the life of the party. She loved many and was loved by many. She was as proud as a mother could be of her daughter, my cousin, Jessica, and she loved her grand babies, Wright and Ronan, more than anything in this world.

Approximately two weeks before my Aunt Veronica passed, we sat across from one another in her living room in silence. She looked at me, and we locked eyes for what was perhaps a mere minute but felt much longer. And then she silently nodded her head in a yes motion while still looking at me. I slowly returned her nod. Within my heart, I believed then and now that my Aunt Veronica was telling me that she was running out of time and that she wanted me to know that I would be okay. Her silence told me that she loved me and that she knew she no longer had to worry about me going through life alone and unhappy. I find it fitting in this tribute to my Aunt Veronica, who died much too young to write her a letter and speak to her from my heart.

 

Auntie,

Today is a year since you left this earth, and it has been the hardest year of my life because when you left, I lost my last blood relative that I knew without a doubt loved me completely and unconditionally. And when you left, part of me left with you. I was the underdog that you loved, and perhaps I am drawn to the underdogs because of you. I always knew you were there and that if I reached out to you that you would reach back. I regret all the time I missed with you during my 28 years of service to our country, but on the other hand, I have always known that you were proud of me and my accomplishments.

auntvandcindy2

I miss your guidance and your scoldings but rest assured, Cindy is doing an excellent job in these areas. Sometimes I wonder if you had a private conversation with her and encouraged her to scold me from time to time. I am by no means a perfect being, nor will I ever be perfect, but I am a better being, and I am better because of you. I miss our conversations – the serious, as well as the joking and laughter we shared. I still hear you saying to me, “Hey Donna, They just don’t get it.” And then we would laugh ourselves to tears. And I will always hear you saying, “I love you more” when I would tell you I loved you.

porchThe girls are keeping Uncle Harold busy. His hardest time is at night, which is understandable. Jessica has her good days and bad days. I believe that your precious grand babies, Wright and Ronan, keep her preoccupied. You would be so proud of Jessie and amazed at the growth of your grand babies. I check in, via text, with Jessie from time to time. You were, and are still, loved so very much.

Mama Helen passed away March 27th, but before she left this earth I stole a moment alone with her and assured her that you would be waiting for her, and I asked her to deliver a personal message to you. I want to believe you received it. There is a song by Dani and Lizzy titled Dancing In The Sky, you probably know it by heart by now, as I have played it twice for you on Facebook. But I want to share the lyrics here because this conveys a message so much better than I can at this time:

Tell me what does it look like in heaven
Is it peaceful and free like they say
Does the sun shine bright forever
Have your fears and your pain gone away

Cause Here on earth it feels like everything… good is missing, since you left
And here on earth everything’s different, there’s an emptiness

Oh-oh, I,
I hope you’re dancing in the sky
I hope you’re singing in the angels choir
I hope the angels, know what they have
I bet it’s so nice up in heaven since you arrived

So tell me, what do you do up in heaven
Are your days filled with love and light
Is there music? is there art and invention
Tell me are you happy are you more alive

‘Cause Here on earth it feels like everything… good is missing, since you left
And here on earth everything’s different, there’s an emptiness

Oh-oh, I,
I hope you’re dancing in the sky
And I hope you’re singing in the angels choir
And I hope the angels, know what they have
I bet it’s so nice up in heaven since you arrived
Since you arrived

Auntie, Je t’aimais, je t’aime, je t’aimerais…


7 thoughts on “In Loving Memory of My Aunt Veronica Lynn Parker July 5, 1954 – July 18, 2014

  1. This is such a beautiful tribute, D.B. Your Aunt Veronica sounds like an amazing person, and I’m so sorry about your loss. But as the lyrics in “Dancing in the Sky” suggest, I’ll be heaven (or whatever the afterlife is called) is a better place with her there. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Donna,

    Thank you for this post. I know how hard it is to lose someone you love so much. This was a beautiful tribute and be assured that it was heard—we never really lose our loved ones; they simply move into our hearts forever.

    I would like you to know how much this post moved and inspired me. My mom, my best friend, my true North, my teacher and mentor, is dying of metastatic breast cancer. She is 83 and my 90 year old dad is doing just about everything. I am the only child, and I go up every other week to help out and bring meals. Her PEO sisters are wonderful, and help her and Dad out each week by bringing meals and laughter into the house. It breaks my heart to see my beautiful mother go through the pain and fatigue this disease brings, but I know that this is another time for us as mother and daughter–a time to switch places and roles as it were.

    When we face these times with someone we love, it’s a challenge to stay afloat and not get lost in it all. I believe we are given time with them before they move on to give us closure, and I believe that we will all be together again at some point in time.

    Sorry for running on like this; I was just very moved by your wonderful post and wanted you to know it.

    Best,

    Jane

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your inspirational words, Jane. I am so sorry to hear you are about to lose your mom. As much as we suffer in heart to see those we love suffer, and we believe they will be in a better place when their suffering is no more, it is a loss we are never prepared for, or one that ends our suffering of the loss.

      In a span of 9 months, from July 2014 to March 2015, I lost two Aunts (six days apart) and then my mom, a month before what would have been her 92nd birthday. My heart has taken a beating and the losses have been unbearable, but somewhere within my knowing place, I know that one day my suffering will transform itself into something more bearable.

      God bless you during this journey with your parents, Jane. And thank you again for your kind words.
      Donna

      Like

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