A Tribute

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:25-26

Our dynamic, loving Aunt Althea went home to heaven last week, leaving us far better than she found us. Her kind and capable ways enveloped our entire tribe for she wrapped every niece and nephew in her embrace, making certain we all knew just how valuable we were to her especially, and to the family at large. Her home was a safe haven, our conversations meaningful, her table always spread with layers of welcome and joy.

Today I must salute this incredible woman who sacrificed a great deal to make sure we all thrived. Her daughter, my sweet cousin Grace Kennedy, wrote this tribute in her mother’s honor. With her permission, I want to share just a little of the story of this great lady we called “Aunt Al.”

Last Saturday we had to say farewell, for now, to my beautiful mom, a woman who put her trust in God and lived with strength, dignity and wisdom.

Mom was a woman who embraced life and lived to the fullest. Her motto was Live, Love, Laugh. She had more energy than all of us put together and was spontaneous, fun and adventurous! She always said “Grass won’t grow under my feet!” She loved people and, rightly so, everyone loved her back. She was all about making fun memories and happy adventures, while always taking the time to give of herself to those who had a specific need. But I’m not gonna lie – she was also very strict and disciplined and called a spade a spade! She was our “Sargent Major,” constantly holding us to a high standard of integrity.

Smart, wise and organized, she would always say, “Make a list!” My mom had so many talents that it almost didn’t seem fair to the rest of us. If she didn’t know how to do something, she would simply figure it out, and in no time the results would look as though she spent a lifetime mastering it. She played field hockey and the piano, loved gardening, and learnt to ice skate, crotchet and play golf when we moved to Vancouver.

She was a natural in the kitchen and a master of our Lebanese and Jamaican cuisine. Everything was made with the secret ingredient – ‘Love’ and always beautifully presented. “Make sure your plate always looks beautiful by using brightly-colored vegetables,” she reminded us. Then after every big family gathering and feast that she would prepare for us, she would send us home saying “Until we eat again.”

She was a wonderful artist and many of us have her beautiful oil paintings hanging in our homes. What a treasure. Truly, there was nothing she couldn’t do!

My mom was strong in her faith and devoted in her marriage. Our Dad adored her and honored their marriage vows for 69 years! She worked alongside him in the family business for most of her life, keeping a sharp eye on the books! She actually sold the very first Volvo when they got the franchise in Jamaica. She and my Dad raised an army of 6 kids and now 20 grandchildren, 18 great-grands with a lot more on the way.

She has left a beautiful legacy, and her memory will live on for years to come through each one of us. I pray that the generations to come will always make you proud Mom, because you have loved and taught us well. “Life is a mirror” she would often say, “Smile, and the world will smile back at you.” Those are words I try to live by, every single day, and I will think of you, Mom, every time I look in the mirror.

Later in her life, Alzheimer tried to take a little bit of her away from us with each passing year. She defied all the odds and fought it for 15 years! Even up to the end of her battle with this disease, she never lost that twinkle in her eyes and we could often hear her “humming” a particular song that I played for her every night while we were getting her ready for bed. “Do you remember me?” she would say to strangers when we took her out. Mom, you have and always will be unforgettable to all of us!

I would say “rest” in peace, but resting is not really your style. Instead I will say “Rejoice in peace, Mom – until we eat again.”

Grace Kennedy/Elizabeth A Mitchell

Photo Credit: Sonjia Imber

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