A Joyful Grateful Heart

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Photo of Aunt Denise taken by Uncle Jack

It’s taken me awhile to write this. I’ve started multiple times but have since deleted each one. We’ll see if this too will be deleted but if you’re reading it then I have finally put into words what is in my heart. Losing a loved one is hard. I knew she was sick, but it wasn’t obvious and she didn’t make a bid deal about it. She even drove me back to our cabins after my cousin’s wedding in September.

What a woman Aunt Denise was. I have always wondered how she did everything she did. It was quite amazing how she worked full time, made quilts, sewed us dresses when we were little, gardened, and cooked pasta and bread from scratch. It wasn’t until her funeral that it hit me.

Aunt Denise did everything with a joyful, grateful heart. She embraced life and lived it to its fullest. I didn’t see her a lot because she lived states away, but I swear she was rarely angry. Or if she was, it was never with rage.

When I got home from her funeral and was moving blankets off of my girls’ bed to wash the sheets, I came across the quilts that she made for my girls. I see those quilts differently now. Or more so, I feel different when I hold them. I feel her joy as she cut each piece and sewed them together to create something that is now loved by my daughters. I feel her years of practice, years of just doing it and slowly getting better. These quilts are perfection, a perfection built through a journey of mistakes and not quitting.

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My two girls with their quilts made by Aunt Denise

How often do we see a finished product and just say, “I can’t do that”? Or try something once and it doesn’t match the photo so we give up? How often have I done that? Too many times to count. But I look at these quilts now and I don’t just see the finished product anymore. I see the journey it took for my aunt to produce this amazing piece.

I’ve had a perfectionist attitude and if it couldn’t be perfect “then why bother”. It has kept me from doing the things I love. Kept me from being the person I know deep down I can be. It has kept me from enjoying life.

Aunt Denise did not make quilts to make something perfect. She made quilts because it brought her joy to make them and then give them as gifts. I saw the joy on my mom’s face when she received one. I felt joy when I received each of my girls’ quilts. When Izzy’s started to come apart, she told me they were made to be used.

Each person in our life, whether the experience had been positive or negative, has taught us something. Aunt Denise has taught me to do everything with a joyful grateful heart. Rest in peace knowing you have brought so much joy to the people around you.

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