When my mom called this morning and said that Aunt Loyza passed away last night, I was slightly surprised (or at least as much so as you can be considering that she was nearly 93 years old). I knew that she hadn't been feeling great for a couple of months but the last I had heard, she was doing better. She was a fighter and I thought my spunky great-great aunt would live "forever." At the very least, I thought she would surpass the "record" set my great-grandpa, who lived to be 93 years and about four months.
Aunt Loyza was my great-grandpa's little sister. I guess you could say she was little in more ways than one. Not only was she one day shy of being 15 years younger, but I'd guess I had bypassed her in height by the 4th grade. She more than made up for her lack of stature with her big personality and even bigger heart. With my great-grandpa gone since 1998, she was the last remaining sibling of that generation.
I know that when people reach their 80s and 90s that they're often prepared and ready to move on. I know that everyone who knew and loved Aunt Loyza can take comfort in the fact that she's now happily reunited with her husband, parents, siblings and countless other friends and relatives. I know that Aunt Loyza will be forever missed but never forgotten.
In memory of Aunt Loyza, I'd like to share a few memories.
- My earliest recollection of Aunt Loyza consists of her reading books to me. This may seem like an ordinary event in every child's life but Aunt Loyza had a special way of reading that made the experience unique. She read me the book backwards. Throughout my childhood, the running gag would be that we would sign cards to each other by writing our names backwards. I became Ybba and she was Azyol Tnua.
- When I was in elementary school, I visited Aunt Loyza at her house with my grandparents. I don't remember what the visit was specifically about but I do remember it being a dewy morning and I remember sifting flour. At the time, I had no idea what a sifter was (not sure I even know now). Wish I could piece together the pieces of this memory better.
- In recent years, I've gotten to know Aunt Loyza better and I'm so thankful for that. When I lived in Seattle, I joined her at several Williams Family Picnics. It was always a blast to see what kind of tricks she had up her sleeve and the gifts, such as the bright blue leg warmers below, were always worth a laugh.
|July 2006: Williams' Family Picnic|
|July 2008: Williams' Family Picnic|
|July 2009: Williams' Family Picnic|
|July 2010: Williams' Family Picnic|
|July 2010: Williams' Family Picnic with all our goodies.|
|July 2010: Something must've been funny!|
- After I moved to San Diego, I stopped by to see her on my visits home. In the past year, I saw her both on my summer and Christmas trips and I'm incredibly happy that I made these visits a priority. As a huge history lover, I enjoyed listening to her stories of childhood during the Great Depression, working during World War II and more. You just never knew what would come out of her mouth next and she always had us laughing, often with a twinkle in her eye that let you know that she was in on the joke.
- Last summer, I visited on a rare warm Seattle day but Aunt Loyza was chilly and had kept a fire burning all day in her living room. Being a true San Diegan now, I found the 75-degree day to be slightly cool too and I didn't mind the additional heat.
|July 2012: Visiting in the summer heat.|
- This past Christmas, my family stopped by to visit Aunt Loyza en route to Christmas Eve at my grandparent's house in Lake Stevens. While the visit was short, I'm so happy to have seen her one more time.
|Christmas 2012: Family Photo|
|Christmas 2012: Aunt Loyza meets my pug, Emma|
|Christmas 2012: Hugs!|