Sometimes, when a person is so wonderful, it feels like we should take extra care to share more about them. I only wish I had done so, sooner.
One such person is my Aunt.
Yukiko. Yuki. Aunt Yuki. She had an innate brightness that has left a beautiful legacy that will shine on in each of us.
Personally, I spent many of my childhood days with my Aunt Yuki and Uncle Corky, while my parents were at work. Aunt Yuki taught me the art of origami, how to play cards, sewing, cooking, gardening, Japanese, and how to show kindness to others.
I learned about her Okinawan culture, was a pen pal to her granddaughter, Aioi, in Okinawa. I loved listening to her stories. Especially, the ones about her growing up in Okinawa and how she met my Uncle Corky in Okinawa, while cutting his hair in a barbershop. They were quite a couple!
He took care of her, she was the pearl of his ocean, and she took exceptional care of him. Aunt Yuki also kept Uncle Corky in line, always calling him “Sama” (which means honorable sir or king in Japanese) and you knew from her tone when she meant business!
One place she always “meant business” was in her kitchen. With great care, she would create the most decadent dishes for Uncle Corky, and the entire family. Their home was full of warmth, the delicious aroma of food, and love.
Her love was infused in everything she touched. She always greeted her family with a big hug and a smile. I can hear her infectious laughter. She may have been small in stature but she was an all-around mighty woman.
A fierce card-player, which in my family means a lot, being we take card-playing very seriously (the competition is actually scary). She consistently would humble us all – the men, especially – kicking their asses at cards. They held great reverence and respect for Yuki. We all did, and we always will.
Aunt Yuki, you are loved beyond measure. Your grit, balanced with your kindnesses and creativity, live on in us. You’ve left an indelible mark on us all. I have more to offer in this world thanks to your guidance and love.
I really thought you’d outlive us all. I’m so sad and sorry that the grips of dementia stole you away. It is an awful disease.
I’m grateful the last day I spent time with you, you exclaimed my name when you saw me and gave me that familiar, cherished warm bear hug and smile. There were shared laughs with our family in the backyard of the “old house”. I’m at peace knowing you are at peace. This world is going to miss your brightness.
One more thing. Aunt Yuki’s favorite animal was the hummingbird. She had little ceramic and crystal hummingbirds throughout her house.
She was very much like a hummingbird.
Our family has a flower in our backyard that attracts many hummingbirds in the summertime and I will always think you’re visiting me and my family.
Fly on, my little hummingbird. Thanks for gracing us with your beauty. Love you, always.