Deb VE foto 1

Deb Van Engelenhoven

This past week I lost my aunt. She had Alzheimer’s so it seems as if I lost her quite some time ago. The time was filled with mixed emotions, sadness for our loss but happiness in seeing each other again.

My aunt was one of my mom’s nine sibling and there were nearly 50 of us cousins. Many of us were in attendance and we shared many stories about Aunt Fern.

One of her granddaughters spoke spoke at her memorial and made all of us remember that growing up our family believed that idle hands were the devil’s playground. We all worked very hard and came back to the farm to help our grandparents every summer.

Aunt Fern’s hands, her granddaughter told us, were anything but idle. Her hands were always busy and in service to others.

The same hands that kneaded the dough for the best biscuits, hot rolls and noodles that any of us ever ate were the same hands that milked the cows, raised the pigs, gathered the eggs, butchered the chickens and tended the acre-wide garden.

She continued by telling us that her grandma’s hands could crochet, knit, embroider, quilt and sew beautiful delicate pieces. But those same hands were used to drive a tractor, lug a chain saw, pull a calf and carry 60 pound bags of feed.

Her hands had a healing, nurturing touch. She was always there to fix the scrapes and tend to the colds. Those same hands would also give a quick clap to remind us not to step over the line.

As she read I remembered how Aunt Fern believed in paying it forward, how she found joy in others and how her ability to love me and my siblings after we lost our own mother to cancer at a young age was bigger than most love I have ever known.

She concluded by sharing with us that we will all miss the touch of those hands but we also are taking comfort in knowing whose hand she is holding now.

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