Today's entry was written by my mom's niece, Carolyn. She is the daughter of mom's oldest brother. We couldn't find a picture of her and mom together, but I found one that mom took of Carolyn and me (mom was always the one TAKING the pictures). I'm a visual person; I think pictures make a blog more fun. So here it is. Thank you, Carolyn.
We spent a lot of time at Tia Deana’s house because of summers, yes, but also because she always hosted family events. Mother’s Days, Father’s Days, Thanksgivings, Christmases…. I have so many memories of holidays at my Tia’s house! Any holiday at Tia’s house meant that first the house would be immaculately clean and second that you could count on her bustling around the kitchen cooking, cleaning, serving, and being the hostess with the mostess. This is why holidays always sucked when the Alves family was in San Jose for a holiday!!! No Tia Deana’s house? No Uncle Bud to tease her and all of us? No Cassandra, Joe, and Chris to play with? Always that put a damper on our holiday fun.
I have a memory that is often vague, so I hope this is accurate…. But I remember that we all went to Knott’s Berry Farm once and I was attempting to be brave about the ride “Montezuma’s Revenge.” But as we inched closer and closer in line, my anxiety about it rose to high levels until finally when it was our turn to ride, I burst into tears. I was too embarrassed to say that I was scared, so I instead said that the Holy Ghost told me I should not get on that ride. I have no doubt that I made that up, but Tia did not mock me or make me feel silly or babyish for not wanting to ride the “scary” ride. Instead she validated my feelings, encouraged me to follow the prompting to not get on the ride, and gave me hug before I moved over and waited for her and the other kids to ride the ride and join me at the exit gate.
I also always remember her spoon collection. Tia would always pick up a commemorative/decorative spoon on any special trip that she took. I always looked forward to seeing a new spoon and hearing her tell me about the trip she took that prompted her to pick up a new spoon for her collection.
Tia Deana could always make me laugh! Sometimes just hearing her laugh would make me laugh. She was a lot like Grandma in that way, that she could find humor everywhere. Visits with my Tia always meant a lot of smiling!
I cannot offer too many specifics; all I can really say is that my childhood, growing years, and now adult years are filled with memories of family gatherings where Tia and her family were always present. My Tia Deana has always found time to talk to me, share stories of growing up with my Dad, stories of Grandma, and stories about my Mom before and after she married my Dad, not to mention compliments galore. I’ve always felt a huge amount of love and admiration from her. To me, she was a terrific mom putting up with my 3 crazy cousins, a loving wife to my crazy uncle, and a devoted daughter to the best Grandma. I have always admired her beautiful red hair, her sense of humor, her carefree spirit, her testimony of the Gospel, and her work ethic.
It’s hard to reconcile the woman she is now with who I know she still is, there in her Spirit. It’s hard to see her sparkling personality diminished. It’s hard to see her unable to converse except for the same few topics over and over again. It’s hard to see her unable to recall details, words, emotions, and memories. It’s hard to see her unable to be cognitive or self-aware. It’s hard to understand why this trial has to be hers, and her husband and children’s’ trial as well. It’s hard. But I know that her Spirit is unchanged, it is just subject to the frailties of her human body at the moment. My Tia may be different now because her brain is no longer healthy, but she is still the beautiful woman who is the author of all the sweet memories shared above. I will celebrate her and honor her always. She is my Tia and I love her!