My Aunt Sheila died from Covid-19 today after a month-long battle in the hospital.
She was a bundle of quirky fun, filled with enormous heart, kindness and generosity. She would often text me asking for cooking tips and recipes so she could try something out of her Kentucky comfort zone. One of the last messages I received was an inquiry into the culinary intricacies of Thai food, which she had not yet experienced.
When Tracy and I visited Paducah in August 2017 to watch the solar eclipse, Sheila took the time to make the family galactic party packages to enhance the experience, filled with candy, weird space-themed wine, cosmic stamps and celebratory T-shirts. Even though she never had a lot of money, Aunt Sheila once sent me a Build-a-Bear Batman just because she thought of me when she saw it.
The day Tracy and I got married, Sheila wanted everything to be so perfect she accidentally tossed my golden luck monkey toy in the trash, then spent an hour tracking it down when I mentioned it was missing from the fireplace mantle. When she rescued him from certain doom, we shared a big hug and a good laugh about it. I don’t think I ever told her that moment of relief we spent together completely calmed my wedding day nerves.
But the thing I cherished most about my Aunt Sheila was that she was a gifted storyteller. She always had an interesting tale to impart about something funny or strange that happened in her life, or a little something she heard from someone else that she made her own. And whenever she spun a yarn she was great at making me feel like I could have been in the room with her when it happened. I always felt like I was somehow part of each charming memory she shared.
And you know, for the 12+ years I was lucky enough to know her, I was.
Goodbye, Aunt Sheila. I will always keep you close in my memories, my stories and my heart. I love you.