My Aunt Janice E. Olson passed away on Wednesday, November 21, 2007 around 12:30 p.m. after a very long battle with cancer. She will be greatly missed by her sons Jason and Josh, her mother, her sisters and brother in law, cousins, and all her nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and great-nephews. She had decided to donate her body to the Mayo Clinic for research purposes and after a year they will return her to her family for a proper burial.
My aunt Jan was a spitfire of a lady. She was feisty and never did things any other way but her own. She could be sweet as pumpkin pie with homemade whipped topping or she could be just as ornery and stubborn as a mule. But even with those extremes, she had a great sense of humor. Even in the end, at least on Friday night she did, when I went to visit her.
I was at work and had called my cousin only after my mom called and said, "She's not going to make it through the night." Jason said, "If you're gonna say your goodbye's, now's the time to do it." I was on my way I told him. I closed up shop and headed south on 35 and then 218 toward Austin where aunt Jan was hospitalized. Apparently, she had had quite a bit of medication throughout the day and was "snowed" (as we like to term it in the medical profession). I got there around 5:30-ish and stayed until about 10:30-ish and after I arrived Jan had started to wake up a bit more and actually have a conversation with us. After refusing her medication for about 3 hours, she was quite alert. Delusional, but alert enough to carry on conversations about that Green Machine she bought for Jason when he was about 6 or 7 and she lived with us (my mom put it together...with parts to spare). Then her nose itched from the nasal cannula they had on her. I jumped up (like a good nursing assistant would) and gloved up and found the lube for her nose. As I was trying to wet her nose so it wouldn't itch anymore (a common side effect from the nasal cannula), I recited to her this little ditty:
You can pick your friends,
You can pick your nose,
But you can't pick your friend's nose.
She said, "What?" So I recited it again and even a third time for her as she was trying to repeat it back to me. Then she said, "Thanks a lot. I'll be thinking about that damn thing all night now." We giggled and she giggled. That's the freshest memory I have of her and the last one that I'll ever have of her. And truly one of the funniest too.
After all she had been through, she still had a sense of humor. And I admired her for that. I hope when I lay on my deathbed like that, that I still have my sense of humor and can crack jokes for those that love me. That's how I will remember my Aunt Jan. That's how I'd want to be remembered.
Recently, we had had a conversation about the musical Unicorn that plays "Over the Rainbow" that she had given me for my confirmation. She was amazed that I still had it. I will forever cherish it and it meant alot to me before, but it means so much more now.
I know material things shouldn't matter to us and we shouldn't love our material possessions like we do, but I have my sentimental reasons for everything that has been given to me by my aunts. I still have the Opal earrings that my aunt Darlene sent me along with my birthday card for my 16Th birthday. And the little 1988 Graduate Ziggy from my aunt Danna that she gave me for my high school graduation. It's those little things that I will remember for the rest of my life. It's those little things that are most important to me.
My aunt's don't realize how much they are loved...even if they are less than pleasant...they are still loved. I have learned long ago to forgive, forget, and move on. You can't change the past, you can only decide what the future brings to you.
Saturday we'll be having the Schoonmaker Thanksgiving at Tessie's house and even though aunt Jan isn't there, I am most certain we will reminisce about her and how she touched our lives...both the good and the bad...we will remember the reasons why we are thankful for her and for each other as well. I will make certain of that. If not for us, then for my cousins Jason and Josh (who should have been brothers instead).
Rest in Peace Aunt Jan. We love you and you will be greatly missed.