My Aunty Caroline

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Today I am posting the eulogy that my niece, Shauna did at our aunt’s funeral yesterday. Shauna did an amazing job at capturing how we all felt about Aunty Caroline. She truly was an amazing person, who had many heart ships in her life but always dealt with them with determination and a positive attitude. Very few people in my life greeted me the way that she did; with a big welcoming hug and a happy smile. She was always interested in what my family was doing; always asked “how is John.” Her husband’s name was John and so the first time she met John she said, “that’s a good name.”

She was loved by everyone at the nursing home and one of her attendants even came to the funeral. Turns out, he knew her very well and had heard of all of us in the family. He knew our stories. I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was. This was the impact that Aunty Caroline had on people. She related well to everyone and also asked how they were.

She was a constant in my life from the time I was 8 and I will miss her so much.

Here is Shauna’s eulogy:

They say “every picture has a story to tell”. As we spent time looking through countless pictures and albums this week, Auntie Carol had many stories to share with us.

Her pictures told us the story of a beautiful, vibrant, young woman with a smile that could light up a room. Born in Croatia in 1934 we imagine a childhood surrounded by family and her 3 siblings; a quiet, shy young girl from simple beginnings. Caroline met John at a dance when she was 16. They hit it off from the start,  and moved to Germany after they were married, later relocating to Winnipeg in 1956. 

Her pictures told us the story of a life devoted to a man she loved. John and Caroline were inseparable. They did everything as a couple; even working together for a time at Mohr’s Quilting for a number of years before Caroline had to quit due to asthma.  

Her pictures told us a story of a woman who loved to garden and spend time in the yard. John and Carol’s yard was their pride and joy. An abundant garden of beautiful flowers and fresh veggies, fruit trees, grapes on the vine and green green grass. Their yard was always the envy of the neighborhood.

Her pictures told us the story of times spent with countless friends, family and loved ones. Entertaining was what John and Caroline loved best. Uncle John would be barbequing the meat in the backyard with his apron on while Auntie Carol took care of the stuff inside.. Fresh vegetables from the garden, salad and potatoes and of course her amazing strudel for dessert. Noone made strudel like she did. 

Her pictures told us the story of a dog named Balki who was doted on and treated like a prince. Balki enriched their lives for over 15 years and he was the center of their world. He was their devoted companion and the ultimate “furbaby” before fur babies were even a thing.

Her pictures …..gave us small windows into the many lives that she touched. The images of family from near and far. Faces of siblings, cousins, and countless, countless nieces and nephews. 

There were the faces of neighbours. Whether they be from Weinberg Road or Amber Meadows, Auntie Carol was always someone people wanted to be around. Her gentle nature, her warm smile, and her kind soul drew people in.

And the faces of  friends from her church, Emmanuel Lutheran where she and John were devoted members of the congregation for numerous years. Her faith was always a huge part of her life.

Over the little while we have missed Auntie Carol at family dinners and special occasions. Sarah’s graduation, Nate’s 16th birthday, Ron’s Liver Transplant Anniversary, and Christmas dinner at John & Chris’ have not been quite the same without Auntie Carol’s presence. Navigating through lockdowns, and the regulations of personal care homes have made spending time with her a challenge. It makes me sad to think of her being so isolated over the last couple of years, knowing how much she has always enjoyed socializing with others. 

So for that reason, it is one picture that has stuck with me most this week. It is one that was always mounted for as long as I can recall. I remember seeing it as a child on the wall in the spare room in their home, seeing it in the apartment on Leila and in her suite at Fred Douglas. It is the poem “Footprints” and I am sure many of you are familiar with it. 

The significance of this keepsake reminds me of the deep faith Auntie Carol has always carried with her and it comforts me to know that she was never truly alone. We can all find solace in a new picture…… a picture of Caroline being reunited with her life long partner, John, her beloved dog Balki, all safely in the care of our Lord. 

Auntie Carol, we love you. We will miss you, the grace of your presence and that wonderful smile.

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