I think we all have a favorite Aunt. You know, the one who lets you get by with stuff…who lets you drive her car maybe before you even have a license…the fun one who jokes around with you….the one who you can talk to more like a sister than an Aunt. You know the kind I’m talking about? Yeah, I had one of those. She was born on September 30, 1951. I was born on April 10, 1967. So you can see why we were so close. She was 16 when I was born. So, I grew up feeling like she was my big sister instead of my aunt. She and my mom were very close. She was the baby of 9 children and lived close to us. I remember the fun and the laughs. There was NEVER a shortage of laughs when we all got together. If there was ever a group of relatives who liked to laugh it was ours. Someone in the group was always making the rest of us laugh. There were four of the sisters who were really close. My mom, Aunt Carol, Aunt Brenda (who was also stolen from us by cancer) and Aunt Naomi. We all loved to get together because we all knew how to have a good time.
Aunt Carol had it rough a lot of the time. She had two daughters – both who turned out to be wonderful women. Lesha was born in 1973 and Jill was born in 1978. She spent most of her adult life as a single mom. She was very strong and always tried to make the best of every situation. She always tried to make sure Lesha and Jill had as a stable and happy a home as she could provide. While money was necessary to live on I think most of the time they lived on love and laughter.
Because my mom and her brothers & sisters were all from KY it was not unusual for us all to hop in my mom’s car in the summer and take off to KY. Those were some crazy times. I get so much joy thinking about all the fun we had. I remember one trip to KY in particular when we piled Mom, Aunt Carol, Aunt Brenda, Aunt Naomi, Shelley (Aunt Brenda’s daughter), Jill and Lesha (Aunt Carol’s daughters) and me in my mom’s Oldsmobile Cutlass. Yes, that is 8 people into one car. Oh my word!! That was a trip I will never forget. If I live to be 110 I will still be telling that story. My Aunt Brenda hung out the passenger side window yelling “HEY!!!” at every person/car we passed. And trying to pack all of our stuff in that trunk was hilarious. Once the trunk was closed we weren’t allowed to open it till we got there or it would all pop out like one of those snakes in a can. This was the days before the seatbelt requirements. But we didn’t really need seatbelts because we were all packed in there tight like a can of sardines. Nobody was going anywhere.
While my years growing up with my favorite Aunt was fun and full of laughter the laughter stopped one day in 1992 when I got a call from my Mom. She said she was at the hosptial emergency room with my Aunt and that she had breast cancer. There’s nothing that takes your breath away quite like the word cancer. Everything changed after that. You can’t have cancer in the life of someone you love and life not change. At this time I was living in Florida because I was now married. However, I stayed in close contact with mom who kept me up on how things were going for Aunt Carol.
During all the years of growing up my Mom would witness to my aunt until one day my Aunt told her that she just didn’t want to hear anymore about it. But cancer has a way of softening a person’s heart. And one day Aunt Carol told Mom that she wanted to be saved. My mom had the joyous privilege of leading her baby sister to the Lord. Sometimes it takes a great deal of pain or sickness to put eternity in the mind of a person. Cancer has a way of forcing you to consider the hereafter. Aunt Carol started going to church with my parents and my Dad and Uncle Gary baptized her one day. She was very weak but she wanted to be baptized. It was a glorious day. The family all gathered together at the church during a time during the week. You will see in the pictures I post soon what an amazing moment it was.
She fought a long hard battle with breast cancer and later as the cancer spread throughout her body. But she was a true fighter and in the end she fought with Christ beside her. On March 2, 1997 her fight came to an end and she reigned victorious as she entered the gates of Heaven into the arms of her Father. She was laid to rest with a sanctuary full of people who loved her. And as my Dad said at her funeral with tears in his eyes and in his voice “See you soon, Carol”.
See you soon, Aunt Carol. You are an inspiration to me and to all who knew and loved you. Breast cancer may have taken your body from us but it could never take your spirit. You live on in each of us. We love you! We will see you again someday.
Carolyn Daniels Cunningham
September 30, 1951-March 2, 1997