Note that I started writing this less than a week after she died. I’ve not been able to return to it. Until now.

In my first true and vivid memory of her, we sat across from each other in a booth at a drugstore, probably Walgreens in Elgin. It must have been February because her birthday was close. She confided in me that she would soon no longer be a teenager and it made her sad. I must have been 9 if she was turning 20. I don’t recall my reaction. Maybe I was sad too.

There are earlier memories, but only snippets: hearing the raccoons in the trash cans outside the cabin in Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin and being worried it was bears; being concerned about her when she had her tonsils removed; going to see the bears at the dump in Arbor Vitae.

The real memories came later. Being junior bridesmaid at her wedding; visiting her and Uncle Jack at their homes: Walnut Avenue and Marguerite Street in Elgin, Lor Ann Drive in South Elgin and finally Ironwood Bluff Road in Fulton, Mississippi.

I always found time to visit with her when I went back to Elgin. Usually, we spent a day shopping, having lunch, visiting. Once or twice we even stayed with her and Uncle Jack, probably because our regular sleeping quarters were full of people.

She visited me after we moved out east at least twice. Once was for an inaugural ball when she flew out with my mom and my brother. The other time(s) was(were) just to play tourist.

My last memories of being with her are full of birds, insects, laughter, cats, reminiscing, and a battlefield.

When Uncle Jack called to tell me she’d died just after Christmas in 2016 it was as if someone had punched me in my stomach. We were on our way back from the beach. I cried in front of my children — something I’d not done before. I had questions: How could that have happened? (answer: diabetes) Why didn’t anyone tell me that she’d been so ill? (she didn’t want you to know). When is the funeral? (there won’t be one).

I finally wrote my uncle, her husband, a letter. He called me last night and we talked about a lot of things, but not about how much we both missed her. That would have hurt too much. Despite having lost other aunts and uncles, my beloved grandparents, and both my parents, this is the loss that I will never get over.

Aunt Ginny — you are missed.

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