We typically travel to western Montana – to a small town about 45 minutes north of Great Falls – for the week of the 4th of July. My grandmother lives there (with a lot of other family relatively close by), at the bottom of a picturesque butte along a stretch of road that leads from Great Falls to Glacier National Park. Minutes from her house is Freezeout Lake, and not far away is an active dinosaur dig. It’s beautiful. And holds a very dear place in my heart.
Last year the three of us (along with my two brothers and parents) went for a week; I was pregnant with Oliver, Tim had just finished a draft of his first dissertation paper, and Eleanor attended her second (in three years) rodeo. Our time in MT is usually a peaceful and relaxed time, one that I really look forward to.
This year is different. This year my parents are there alone. And they are there to say goodbye to my aunt- my dad’s eldest sister – who was diagnosed with bone cancer about 7 months ago and who passed away this afternoon surrounded by loved ones.
My grandmother has lost her first child. My uncle, a wife. She leaves behind 5 children and 7 grandchildren; 12 nieces and nephews and countless friends. I don’t have a memory of her in which she is not smiling, and that is how she will forever be remembered.
Rest in peace, Auntie Jo. We love you.