I find myself staring into the beautiful spaces that God created and letting my mind wander over the hills, through the valleys, and along the streams. In my mind all of it is wild, all of it is untouched, and all of it is revered by mankind. From the path my mind wanders along, I see the people who now walk the streets of gold, the ones we loved here on earth. I long to sit and visit with them again. I long to hear the familiar laughter that each of them often contributed to our family gatherings. I ache to look into the eyes of those heroes who have gone before me. In those eyes, there are windows to all-time, the windows dressed in love are unmistakable. The eyes invite you in to sit and stay for awhile, they exude love, and portray a confidence that all will be just fine, for where we are gathered, He is there also. Try looking into the eyes of a loved one, maybe an older one, but one who has assured their eternal salvation by giving their life to Christ, and tell me you don’t see all I have described here, and more.
I wrote this piece two years ago, and this morning, I honor my aunt’s life by posting the original words I wrote.
It’s a bright, beautiful Saturday morning, but suddenly time has lost its grip on the day. I sat down and wrote most of this over the last two weeks, in the present tense, about my Aunt Janette, a remembrance and tribute to her. Last night, just before 9pm (Eastern) God called her home. My Mom called to give me the news that I had been waiting to hear but hoped I would never actually receive. We talked for a moment or two and then I prayed. I prayed for Lloyd and Janette’s family, all of them, in every direction. I prayed and I prayed. I prayed for me and for my family too. So that we can be and will be the strength, support, love, voice, or shoulder to lean on for any who might need it. This certainly includes me too. I prayed for all of us, any of us related to the Peterson family one way or another.
Facebook says that we are friends. The family tree says we are related, she’s my aunt, and I am her nephew. Yes, we are friends, and yes we are related, but that doesn’t begin to sum it up.
My Aunt Janette. She’s my aunt. She married into the Peterson Family as did my father. Blood, or not, she chose to love my brothers, my sister, and I; my whole family. It seems to me that she and my Uncle Lloyd and their family always had a special place in their hearts for our family. We would travel from New Hampshire to New Brunswick for visits in the summer and sometimes over Christmas break as well. The homestead we visited was just a little further down the dirt road, then was my aunt and uncle’s farm. We passed by their farm every time we went to visit the old farmhouse. We were able to see them often when we visited, in part, because we could see their farm from the old homestead.
It seems that Aunt Janette would show up with something cooked, baked, made, prepared, whatever it might be, but always good. She would bring it by, with a smile, a laugh at the ready, and was always lightly armed with her sense of humor.
I very much enjoyed having my aunt, my uncle, and many cousins around when we visited the farm. We created our own excitement, entertainment, and passage of time. Family was the thing to do, the main attraction, and visiting with family was the best way to spend time.
Looking back at growing up, visiting my family in Canada was among the favorite things I ever got to do. Now, grown, with kids of my own, it remains a favorite thing to do.
I love driving out there to the farm lands. I enjoy turning up the dirt drive to my aunt and uncle’s farm. The open views, rolling hills full of fields, and the clean, sweet-smelling air are all pieces that enhance the experience. Amaris and I, and three of the kids have been out to the farm for a visit. In recent years, visits have included riding four-wheelers around on the farm along the old rail bed between Lakeville and the Little Presque Isle. It’s a blast, with or without, the rides. Just visiting, talking, laughing, and catching up are more than enough for an enjoyable visit.
There’s even more to it. I know my Aunt Janette expects a visit from us anytime we are up that way. And if they’re home, then there’s an open invite. Period. We are always welcome, and warmly welcomed when we arrive.
When the twins were just 4 months old, we were in Canada for my cousin’s wedding reception. We visited the farm on an August afternoon, and there was Aunt Janette, willing, offering, and able to watch the twins while the rest of us went for a long ride on the four-wheelers. That’s just her, willing, offering, and able.
When I think of Aunt Janette, for some reason, the color yellow comes to mind. I really don’t know why. Maybe it’s the tall sun flowers that always grew across the dirt drive from the house. Or maybe it’s my aunt’s blonde hair, that also drew references to Marilyn Monroe from my Dad. Maybe it was an outfit, or something yellow that my aunt wore that stuck out in my subconsciousness growing up. Yellow is associated with happiness and maybe that’s the correlation.
Janette means, “gracious”, or “God is gracious”, and I think this name is so fitting. One definition of gracious is this; “Courteous, kind, and pleasant, esp. toward someone of lower social status”. I love the last part because, to me, one of the things I have long associated with my Aunt Janette, is her ability, or willingness to side with the underdog, the less fortunate, or the one whose voice was otherwise muffled among others. From the commoner, to the kid, they always had a friend in my Aunt Janette.Where’s that woman who used to embody farm? She would work and still pull off that striking charm There’s an empty spot in the garden over there A place vacated by the mother with golden hair Can I walk for a while where she would tread? O’er the grounds many visitors she had led That child’s hand isn’t held walking next to us It would’ve been by the girl who grew up in Texas May I enter her home and just sit for a while? I can smell the bread and still see the smile The room is full but something’s out-of-place There’s a smile missing, absent, a friendly face Can I say a little something to remember her by? How she’d reach for the frail and let them fly There are stories shared, each must be told Recalling the wife that never did look old Is it just me or is there happiness found here? “…there am I in the midst…”; He is near Gathered there is strength, and even more love Missing here, we need only smile and look above
My Aunt Janette resides in heaven this morning. She is much better off than she was 24 hours ago. I understand her family was there when she drew her last breath here on earth. She wouldn’t have wanted that any other way. I don’t want to get to know cancer any better than I already have through the battles and sufferings I have seen in my own family. But I am glad that it touched not her mind, her spirit or her heart, for those are the things that made her so beautiful.
I have written too many of these tributes for my own liking. It means that friends and loved ones have left us. But, I cannot get through this without sharing thoughts I have shared before because it’s too important to miss.
I have often thought that God has a unique way of allowing things to happen, or at least to be noticeable to us, at the right time so we can create our own way of coping with events bigger than us. For example, I remember when my grandfather died. He was a great man of God, a preacher, a teacher, a reciter of the scriptures, he had a Christian book store, he had preached on the radio, and lived his life for God. I remember the morning of his service, the day he was to be buried, a light, pure, white snow fell, just enough to cover everything in a beautiful untouched blanket of white. I remember saying to my parents that God had given the ground a purifying coat of clean for my grandfather’s body to be put to rest one final time. I don’t know how this relates or if it does at all but I know I won’t soon forget that my attention was so-called to the heavens yesterday as God’s power was evident in the parting of the evening clouds, allowing the reds and pinks to provide a most beautiful backdrop.
There’s a plan for all of this. God’s plan. Two words that make many want to turn and run the other way, God’s plan, because it usually means something that us imperfect humans don’t understand, or don’t want to deal with. Whatever the reaction is, it doesn’t change the plan. When I was younger I fought the plan, I am sure I did. I also didn’t always understand how or why things so painful could happen to people as part of God’s plan. I am certainly not going to pretend to know or understand all these things now either. I do know that almost always, we are a part of a plan that is much bigger than it appears on the surface.
I know it’s hard to look at this situation and see the positive. It’s all part of the plan. God’s plan. Time will tell how the plan unfolds. Even though it’s God’s plan, we are to be present and participating in His plan. I am in no way trying to down play any of this; this is a serious matter. There’s a message in most everything and I am willing to bet there’s even more of a wonderful message here as well. Think of the things you have heard, the things you have read, the things you have seen yourself, the life you may have been a part of first hand, all those things are a message of Janette’s life. While many stood and watched, or waited to be led, Janette was digging in and getting things done. I am so glad I got to visit her and the family last month. It’s been my pleasure to be a part of their family and to cherish the interactions we have shared over the years. The members of her family, their family, are strong, they are versed in the Word, and they have the prayers of thousands in their favor, they will endure. Often times through the most unthinkable loss or sacrifice comes the greatest gift or the most amazing victory.
Please don’t think that this is over when the news stops running or the stories stop circulating. You and I may be a part of the plan. Anyone of us could be instrumental. The Peterson family is, and will be feeling like there’s a void in a place where there once was a rock. So, our words, our actions, our prayers, just might be the right thing at the right time for the one who needs that spoken word or the example they were looking for. Foundations are paramount for a sound structure as the scriptures tell us. This family just lost a major portion of their foundation and we might need to help hold up the structure for a time. Really it’s always supposed to be that way. We are human, and our best moments aren’t all of our moments. Yet the more we think our moments are our best, the more they will be. And the moment we decide that we need to be our best might just be the moment that God’s plan includes us to be the message for someone needing to see that something that helps them cope and overcome.
I, we, are here for you all. I am going to miss my Aunt Janette and the life she brought to every day. I am so very thankful that my wife and kids had the chance to meet her, and interact with her in her element, out on the farm. It was our treat to be out there with her.
From birth, all the way through to adulthood, that little stretch of road encompassing the Peterson farms was all I ever needed. There was an entire world of adventure, exploration, love, support, and good times within that single mile of country. I long for those days and those places often. Aunt Janette, Uncle Lloyd, and their family have remained as a strong bond to those times and places for me. I hope never to lose them. I hope never to forget them. I hope always to visit and share in them, the greatest days, the greatest people in my life. I love you Aunt Janette and I can’t wait for the day we meet face to face again.