Her Favorite Flower

Although sunflowers are pretty (and I enjoy eating their seeds) they are not my favorite flower. However, this morning an enormous bouquet of sunflowers adorns my desk for Only The Good Friday. I’ve placed them there to honor my husband’s favorite aunt, who died one year ago. I’ve told you about Aunt Cleo before; she was my hero.

sunflower bouquet

Her favorite flower was the sunflower, and she decorated her home with a profusion of them. The sunflower is a fitting symbol for Cleo, for they represent warmth and happiness. The color yellow is also a good match for her, for it means optimism, enlightenment, and happiness. That sums up Cleo pretty well.

Cleo battled Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Perhaps you don’t know anyone who has the disease, which gradually paralyzes the muscles of the body which allow us to move, eat, and breathe (but not the part of the brain that allow us to think, feel, and remember). Usually it develops in people between 40 and 70 years old, and 90% of the people who get it did not “inherit” it. It is not contagious, but it is a disease that strikes randomly. According to Frontline, “It is estimated that 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS at any given time, with approximately 5,600 new cases diagnosed annually. More than 5,000 people die from the disease each year.” There is no cure … yet.

If Cleo were still here, there would be one soon! Even confined to a wheelchair, she “walked” to raise money for ALS research. She knew it wouldn’t help her, but she hoped it would help somebody. This year, her daughters Kase and Patti walked in her memory.

Obviously Cleo didn’t win the battle with ALS (no one does), but she faced this deadly disease with courage, dignity, and laughter … even when she lost her ability to speak. Those would be reasons enough to admire Aunt Cleo, but there was more.

Cleo had the ability to make everyone feel special. She accepted people, no matter their foibles, and welcomed them into her heart. Her heart was doggone big. What a wonderful world it would be if there were more “Aunt Cleos” out there!

I’m betting that you have a hero or two. Who has touched your life, and taught you how to live it fully?

  11 comments for “Her Favorite Flower

  1. July 30, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I only recently came across your blog so I popped back to your previous post – Thanks for sharing Aunt Cleo with us!

    • August 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

      Thanks for reading about her Paula. She was a very special person.

  2. July 30, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Somehow it seems that so many of the people who make everyone around them feel and act more alive, are the ones we so often lose early or maybe we miss the feeling that their presence gave us and when they are gone we are left saying, “Too Soon”.

    • August 10, 2010 at 10:35 am

      But, at least we had them for awhile … and we have the memories. As long as we have those, they are not really “gone.”

  3. July 31, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Jamie, that is so true.

    We recently lost my neighbor to ALS. She kind of reminded me of your Aunt Cleo in how she dealt with it. Such a sad and awful illness.

    • August 10, 2010 at 10:39 am

      Yep, Jessica. ALS is awful. The worst part is that those who suffer it have a clear mind and memory, but get to a point where they cannot express their thoughts. I hope one day there is a cure … at the very least an adequate treatment.

  4. July 31, 2010 at 8:30 am

    I think that the realization of how much we take for granted is what makes us act and feel more alive. Having family or any close relations with a disease or living a catastrophe helps us realize we are alive and we should be happy about it.
    Those flowers are beautiful, by the way. To me, they symbolize Van Gogh which was not like Aunt Cleo. Sunflowers remind me to enjoy my fragile peace of mind.

    • August 10, 2010 at 10:46 am

      It would indeed be wonderful if we could all realize our good fortune without a catastrophic illness to remind us! Having a close relative with a disease just makes me feel guilty!

  5. August 1, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Here’s a little something for all your crocheting friends Knitter’s Hunk Contest

  6. August 1, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    My brother who died from cancer. After his death, my husband and I decided we were not going to wait for the good things to happen as we got older, like travel, and less time spent at work. We made the decision that every day was special, and if any good was to come out of my brother’s death, it was that we would enjoy every moment we were on this earth.
    We have since traveled to many of our dream destinations, and no longer work in jobs. Life is good, and I want to thank a very special man for helping us realize this. I only wish that his death wasn’t the catalyst for our change

    • August 10, 2010 at 10:49 am

      My heart goes out to you. I know how you feel. My best friend died in a fire several years ago … and it certainly opened our eyes to the importance of living life in the moment!

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