My Great Aunt Esther passed away earlier this year and the celebration of life was to be held Mother’s Day weekend. Esther was my Mother’s favorite – the Aunt who always had time to listen to and encourage a small child. Aunt Esther played a huge role in Mom’s life – my sister Patricia and I understood her need to say goodbye.
We decided to take our parents, now in their 80’s, to the memorial in Laguna Niguel. A large gathering of Mom’s family, including her brother and sister, planned to be there and knowing how special it would be for her to visit with them, we left on a whirlwind trip. I was excited to meet some of my Mother’s relatives for the first time.
We hopped on a plane Saturday morning and arrived in time to rent a car to drive to our Cousins’ for the event. It was a gorgeous, sun-filled day in Laguna Niguel, which is a bedroom community in Southern California flanked by the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s known for the extensive park system, lush landscaping and scenic highways.
The tribute to Aunt Esther was a true celebration of her life – one lived in joyful service to others. She lived and taught English in Ecuador for 58 years – and although I only met her a few times, she always made sure to send a card to our family at Christmas.
Esther’s son, (our cousin) made bookmarks as keepsakes. His words gave a glimpse into the woman who was so very much loved by our Mother:
‘This bookmark represents Esther’s love of books from when she could
first read until her last days on earth. She loved a story well told and had
a few of her own to share during her 102 years of life. However:
What brought Esther the greatest satisfaction was to be of service to those
less fortunate – especially children. She volunteered in schools and at the local
hospital giving freely of her time. She will be remembered by all as a warm,
dedicated, and caring person.
Esther’s character is summed up in the words of Mahatma Gandhi:
“My life is my message”
On that beautiful sunny day surrounded by the nature she loved, we honored the life of the woman, Esther. Mother, Aunt, Great Aunt, Teacher, Mentor and Friend.
As this lovely event came to an end we decided to take the short drive to Heisler Park on the beach. Since I travel light I didn’t bring my Nikon camera. Equipped with only my IPhone the photo opportunities were all around me. Most often when I am taking photos I think of how they will look as a watercolor painting – and in Laguna Niguel, the inspiration was everywhere.
The 3 or 4 times a year that I visit the ocean I find it excitingly beautiful with it’s interesting vegetation and colors and sounds of the waves. The sun was setting which gave yet another backdrop of color and mood. Walking along the beach path provided me with many photos that I will paint in the future. A lovely way to end the day and prepare for our early morning flight back.