Monday, September 5, 2011


People come and go in our lives.

Some disappear like a wisp of smoke.

Some leave footprints…

Phyllis Margaret – my Auntie Phyllis. She left footprints.

Saturday I attended a memorial service for my aunt. It was a wonderful time. Lots of relatives and friends. We remembered her, and we remembered God. It was both honoring to my aunt's memory, and glorifying to the One who gave her life.

I shared these thoughts about her. I wanted to share them with you.

I had only one aunt – my dad had just his brother, and my mom was an only child – and so, Auntie Phyllis was a special person to me.

The one thing I remember about her is how she and I always liked to talk. Even from the time when I was a very, very little girl.

I was the first child born in my extended family, so of course I bonded with my only aunt, who was only 17 years older than me. And I guess I was quite a chatterbox! Auntie Phyllis always had a bunch of questions for me, and I always had a lot of answers…

…often about things I probably shouldn't be talking about!

Like the one time she asked me what was new – and I proceeded to tell her about the *unmentionable problem* that I had brought home from school that required (me yakking) "my whole family has to take this red medicine that tastes really yucky, and my dad has to take the most, and Mom has to wash all our clothes and sheets in boiling water…etc." My dad was thrilled that I passed that one on – come to think of it, my mom didn't seem too happy either.

When I became a teenager, I remember how my aunt always knew the latest singing groups or songs, how she dressed like us, and always wanted to talk about things in my teenage life. I thought she was really cool – especially for an *old* lady. (C'mon, what was I thinking – she was only like 33 at the time!! Oh, soooo old…)

She and I were a lot alike. Kinda serious, kinda sensitive, kinda philosophical – (OK, *really* all those things…)

We talked about life –

We laughed about girl stuff, we dissected life stuff, and we pondered God stuff. We shared some of the same faith struggles – and yet, we always shared the same deep love for Jesus.

My aunt was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease when she was only 45 years old. She had a long hard struggle with it. She was only 73 when she died.

I will never forget the last conversation I had with my aunt. It was about a year ago. She had severely deteriorated in the last few years of her life, and was living in a care facility. Her lucid moments came and went. But this day was a *good day*, and I had a chance to talk to her.

I remember her telling me how thankful she was for her Parkinson's. I couldn't believe my ears. Thankful for it?? It had devastated her normal life. It would end up shortening it. How could she be grateful?

She told me she thanked the Lord for it – that because of her Parkinson's, she had finally found what her purpose was – what she had been born to do. She was a missionary, a witness to everyone she met. Saturday I found out that she often went throughout the halls whispering in the ears of fellow residents, "Jesus loves you."

She told me she was happy, at peace. I told her how much that made me happy. We told each other how much we loved each other. And I told her I wasn't sure if I'd be able to see her (she lived in Oregon) – she told me not to worry, she didn't have too many good days anymore.

But, I remember saying this, "Auntie Phyllis, if I don't see you again in this life, I will see you again in Heaven."

She said something like this to me, "Oh, sweetie, I know. Won't it be wonderful?!"

God gave my aunt a great gift at the end of her life. She, who had spent nearly 30 years tortured and plagued by the ravages of Parkinson's, went quietly to sleep one night and never woke up – at least in this life!

God gave her – after struggling through a very difficult life – a completely easy and peaceful death.

So yes, Saturday was a day of good grief. That's how it is with believers. We grieve, we weep, knowing how much we'll miss our loved one – but we do not grieve without hope.

Jesus, our dear Jesus, took care of all that…

Sharon's Acrostic Dictionary defines grief this way (and you just knew it would, didn't you?!):

G ratefully
R emembering
I n light of
E verlasting life
F orever

I'm sad, yes, but I'm overjoyed for my aunt. I'm celebrating with her.

Because, you see, it was her Homecoming Day!


Now the night is over,
Day has just begun,
Ushered into Heaven,
I am with the Blessed One.

Many have come before me,
Others have paved the way,
The angels sing His glory,
It’s my homecoming day!

To a mansion promised,
Where tears are forever gone,
Where light and love united,
Live eternally on and on.

All the past forgotten,
As a fog that’s swallowed up,
Pain destroyed, death defied –
I now drink from the Master’s cup.

I am here because of Him,
His selfless gift of grace,
And now for eternity,
I will gaze upon His face.

Glory be His shining robes,
Honor be His crown –
My spirit sings, my soul redeemed,
In His presence I bow down.

Now the world has passed from view,
The victory’s been won –
He says, “Well done my faithful servant,
Welcome home, my precious one.”

© Sharon Kirby
March 1, 2002

"For me to live is Christ [His life in me], and to die is gain [the gain of the glory of eternity]." (Philippians 1:21, Amplified Bible)

BLOG = "Blessedly Leaning On God!"


  1. Hi Sharon,

    Thank you for sharing this lovely blog and tribute with us.

    God Bless - Nita

  2. What a wonderful tribute. I'm glad that I read yesterday's footnote before reading this because I had "What a Friend" stuck in my head as I started.

    As I read, I kept thinking what a treasure she was. I think a few "choice" people come into our lives through the course of them, and your aunt was one such person for you.

    Your homecoming poem is wonderful too.

    (But I don't know the "unmentionable" that you brought home. I feel stupid that I can't figure it out. )

  3. ((((Sharon and family)))) I'm so sorry about the loss of Aunt Phyllis, but what a wonderful person she was and what a wonderful legacy she left. I like how she "tackled" her Parkinson's and didn't let it get her down (too) much but chose to embrace it and use it to further God's kingdom where she was at, encouraging others. So thankful her death was a peaceful one and so thankful you will be united forever with her one day for all of eternity! What a day that will be!


  4. Your aunt must have been very special. You were blessed to have had her in your life. She was in your life for a reason. Thanks for sharing some moments of your wonderful time with her. Have a blessed week. Hugs Carrie

  5. Hi Sharon,
    I'm so sorry to hear of your aunts passing, but your post here is so honoring of your relationship. I still have an aunt that I spent the first 13 years of my life with...somewhere between sister and good friend. She has remained a gift to me and now, my family. Just last week she cohosted a shower for my son and his fiance. She reminds me of my dad, (her brother) and I am grateful for that too. The poem was beautiful, Sharon, your gift for writing amazes me each time I visit.
    PS I have been having printer issues, but am finally getting something in the mail to you tomorrow!

  6. Oh Sharon, I wish everyone could read this tribute. What a legacy your aunt left you. Besides being a mother, being an Auntie is a relationship I love.

    Bless you for sharing this with us.

  7. Sharon - So sorry for your loss - but oh - heaven's gain with shouts of joy! It is such a comfort to KNOW you shall see her again - and in the presence of our Lord. So glad you have such wonderful memories of her in her youth and vibrancy. May the tender moments you shared with her continue to enrich you as you walk with Him.

  8. Oh I am so happy and sad for you and your dear aunt. I am happy she is home with the Lord and you two were so close - and sad for the loss.

    Hugs to you. What a blessing to KNOW she is in Heaven!


  9. Dear Sharon, It is such a privilege to be reading this special story. Thank you for sharing. There really is such a thing as 'good' grief and I love your acronym. All God's Best, Kerrie

  10. Such a beautiful tribute to what must have been a BEAUTIFUL lady. I can't wait to meet her in Heaven!

  11. Ohhh my Sharon... what a beautiful tribute and person your Aunt is!!! Of all the posts for me to miss... I am so sorry about this!

    Your words make me want to meet her someday as well. What a beautiful peaceful exit into the arms of Jesus! That each of us could go this way.

    I am honored to be able to read such a wonderful farewell and way to memorialize her life and yours with her. That is what lives on in our hearts and in our minds the good memories with the truth of knowing that she no longer deals with any Parkinson's or any "yuck"of this world.

    Did you write Homecoming day? and if so, did you write it for her? It actually sounds like a song...I think I hear the angels singing this and rejoicing ... what amazes me is that positive spirit of her gratitude "in all things"
    that included the debilitating effects of Parkinson, yet she chose to give thanks. Saintly. I'm so glad that you had such a special aunt willing to talk about "life"... may she live on in your heart and may your time of mourning really BE GOOD GRIEF... that was a fantastic acrostic worth memorizing and repeating that I am

    G ratefully
    R emembering
    I n light of
    E verlasting life
    F orever

    your loved one, Aunt Phyllis Margaret...and my loved ones that have gone before us and give us the HOPE of being reunited with Jesus and them.

    Bless you! Many arms of comfort and God's Grace cover you with love and peace and beautiful memories of this saint... thanks for sharing her with us,

  12. My dearest friends,

    Thank you so much for your heartfelt comments on the death of my aunt. The Lord has given me such a sense of His peace, and I am filled with celebration that my aunt is with Him right now and forever!

    Her memorial service was wonderful, and I believe that it brought our family even closer together.

    May God continue to give us His strength and power as we labor on this earth. Every day we wake up, He has something for us to do. May we serve Him with everything we've got, until He calls us home!



"So [I] have been greatly encouraged in the midst of [my] troubles and suffering, dear brothers and sisters, because you have remained strong in your faith. It gives [me] new life to know that you are standing firm in the Lord. How [I] thank God for you!" (1 Thessalonians 3:7-9)

Thanks for your comments - it is such a joy to be sharing my journey with friends like YOU!

(NOTE: Anonymous comments will be removed. Thank you for understanding.)