This is my husband’s Aunt Gina, my mother-in-law’s sister. She was the best aunt and aunt-in-law you could ever hope to have. She never got a man who really loved and respected her, and that is a horrible shame, because this was a woman who lived to love people. She didn’t really have the money to spend, but she would shower the nieces and nephews with gifts and was the one who remembered every little occasion and made it special. I had to laugh, because every time a baby in the family fell down, she would come running, shrieking, “Mijito!! Mijita!! Are you okay?” and scoop up the little one into her arms with besos and hugs until everything was better. At every family event, you could count on Gina to be in the kitchen doing the dishes for hours afterward if it took that long.
When she found out that I had never had a birthday party, she conspired with Nick, and they planned a surprise party when I turned 30. Nick convinced me to go to his parents’ house for some reason, and I was shocked to find 30 or so of my oldest friends and family there. This was quite an accomplishment, because we lived an hour from anywhere. Because she wanted me to have the party I’d never had as a child, Gina made sure there was a clown who made balloon animals. I can’t tell you what that meant to me. I’m tearing up a little bit just remembering it-because it was from her heart.
She passed away in 1996, when she was only 53. Although she had suffered from a lot of health problems, no one expected her to have a fatal aneurism at such a young age. You never see it coming. She was brain dead but on life support, and her family had to make the decision to disconnect her from the machines keeping her alive. I remember driving 45 minutes to and from work every day crying the whole drive and pleading with God for the week she was in the hospital. I am extremely grateful to have had her in my life for eleven years.