Inspirational Influences: Happy Birthday, Angela

By Gabby Gabriel


September 22 is the day I always stop to think about my great aunt Angela again, I posted this before, and my feelings still ring true: Today would have been my Great Aunt Angela’s birthday. “September 22, the last summer rose,” I can hear her saying it as if she were still here, and she is still here. I can hear her voice when I miss her; the ring Angela’s mother gave her is now on my hand. I wear it every day.

Despite there being 78 years of age between us, we had an unshakable bond. Growing up, she would take my friends and me on excursions. We were 10, and she was almost 90, but the age didn’t faze any of us. Angela didn’t let age hold her back. Her love was unyielding. She was always there for me, anytime. I could call her at 1AM from my university apartment, and she would answer. Albeit a bit groggy, but always happy to hear from her best friend.

When I was 18 and had experienced heartache for the first time, she was the only person to give me a card to try and cheer me up. She felt pain when I felt pain. Being a young person, I always thought Angela would be there forever. I could never expect my life without her. So, when age started to catch up with her, I never expected it to take her so quickly, and still too soon. When she felt pain, I felt pain. I couldn’t hold back the tears the first time I came home from my sophomore year at university, and there she was at a nursing home.

My protector, partner in crime, confidant, Godmother, the strong one – in a wheelchair- ill… dying. Yet, she said not to worry about her. My life was just in its beginning stages, and that I would go and do so many great things still. She reminded me to always do what made me happy.

“Don’t worry about what other people think. If they don’t like it, they can lump it.”

She’s been gone seven years now, and I still miss her every day. I know I am lucky to have had her in my life, but things, especially in our family, haven’t been the same since she’s been gone. She was the glue that reminded us to stick together.

The last reminder of a generation of relatives now gone. I miss her love and her vivaciousness. I miss her ability to make everything seem it will be ok. I miss holding her hand and talking to her about the past. I miss being amazed that someone so old could still be so young at heart. I miss her zest and happiness. I miss her and the times we had together. I miss her. The “I miss list” is endless.

I know what would make Angela happiest if I live my life in the way she did. With love, with care, with infinite curiosity, with passion for learning, with fun, and with fervor. To bounce back from disappointments and from my weaknesses. When I need that extra shoulder of support, I remind myself of Angela. Her wisdom. Her courage. Her ability to go through all of life’s troubles, and still wear a smile at the end of the day. She died sick, yes. But she died happy. She died being adored, admired, and truly loved.

Happy birthday Angela.


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