2020 - Jan - Gazette - Remembering with Love

By: Jackie Hook
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Remembering with Love

I heard Mom repeat, “Oh, Joe.” I was 12 years-old, it was Halloween night 1973, and Mom was talking on the phone to my Uncle Joe. Uncle Joe was married to my mom’s sister, my Aunt Penny. I knew that Aunt Penny had been experimenting with what were then considered alternative diets, and given my mom’s tone of voice my mind immediately connected the dots and I thought she must have gotten sick. I continued playing on the floor with the papier-mâché monster I created in junior high art class – listening and waiting for mom to finish the call and let me in on the news. When Mom got off the phone, I sat in the silence for what seemed an abnormal amount of time before she spoke. Eventually she shared the news, “Penny died.”

Aunt Penny and three of her four children were driving on the beltway around Washington, DC, when they were in a crash that killed her and injured my cousins. Penny was 33 years old.

On Sunday, January 26th, Penny would have been 80 years of age. As evident by this introduction, I still remember her death. I also remember her life, and remember it with love.

Penny was born Jacqueline Clague – I was named after her and have always been grateful for that. When she was an infant, my grandmother thought she looked like a shiny new penny, hence her lifelong nickname. My mom often spoke about how her sister was a beautiful person with many artistic talents.

Penny and Joe were pioneers. They married when Penny was in her teens and the two of them moved to wilds of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia after Joe left his insurance sales job. They were the first people to live in Page Valley – an act that must have taken much courage. They built their home with their own hands and started a canoeing business from nothing. This legacy still lives on as the Shenandoah River Outfitters. 

To me, Aunt Penny was fun. I can still see her smile and hear her voice and laughter. She and Uncle Joe were very much in love and he often made her laugh. Aunt Penny loved her children and created a life of adventure for them as well. When we visited, we’d get a taste of some of these adventures.

My parents and I were reminiscing about Penny just the other day. Later that day my mom sent me a message saying, “And thank you so much too, for asking Dad and me about Penny. I love to think about those things…”

Remembering your loved one can be comforting and is one way to help you heal after a loss. It becomes a concern when you get stuck in the remembering and don’t actively participate in your life; professionals can help you start moving again. I appreciate these words from www.whatsyourgrief.com:

Grief opens your eyes to a world in which the sun and rain can exist in the same moment. This reality can be a bit disorienting at first, but in many ways, it is a good thing. It means that you don’t have to choose between grieving the past and living in the present. It means that the pain of loss can exist right alongside things like pleasure, happiness, and hope. And above all else, it means that you never have to leave your loved one behind as you move forward in the present.

After reading that quote, I am reminded that of course the sun and rain can exist together -that’s what makes the rainbows! And like the sun and rain, hope and grief can create rainbows too.

You’re invited to make some of your own rainbows at Remembering with Love: A Ceremony Honoring Your Loved One Who Died on Sunday, February 9 at 2:00 pm at the Wyndham Garden Inn, 310 Elks Club Road, Boalsburg. We will show a tribute video with their pictures, have a candle lighting ceremony and read their names aloud. Light refreshments will be served. If you would like to honor your loved one and Koch Funeral Home did not serve your family, you too are welcome. Please RSVP by Wednesday, February 5 by visiting www.kochfuneralhome.com or our Facebook page @kochFH.

You’re also invited to:

  • Monday’s Moments Grief Education and Support Complimentary Luncheon – “Whispers of the Heart,” Monday, February 3 from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m. at the Courtyard by Marriott, 1730 University Drive, State College.  Email Jackie@JackieHook.com, call 814-404-0546 or sign up on the Koch Funeral Home Facebook page to RSVP by Thursday, January 30.
     
  • Death Café, the third of Monday of the month, February 17 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Webster’s Bookstore Café, 133 East Beaver Avenue, State College with complimentary desserts provided by Webster’s.
     
  • Your Life Re-Launched - What’s Your Story? and State of the Story present an evening of Moth-style storytelling about how loss can propel us into new and surprising places, Monday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m. at The Attic of The State Theatre, 130 West College Avenue, State College. Admission is $7.00 and tickets are available at http://thestatetheatre.org/.

For more information about these programs, please visit Koch Funeral Home website’s Bereavement Gatherings and Events section under the Local Resources tab. All of these events are open to the public and space is limited.

We hope you find the rainbows in your life!

For more information about these programs, please visit Koch Funeral Home website's Bereavement Gatherings and Events section under the Local Resources tab. All of these events are open to the public and space is limited.

Jackie Hook, MA, is a spiritual director, celebrant and end-of-life doula.  She coordinates the Helping Grieving Hearts Heal program through Koch Funeral Home in State College.  For more information, please call 814-237-2712 or visit www.kochfuneralhome.com.

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