Saturday, August 17, 2013

My definition of my Aunt Kitty: A cherished friend and personal cheerleader who will always see you through rose colored glasses.

My Aunt Kitty (Amelia Lyons) was the baby of the family and my father's favorite little sister.   She had twelve children and raised them well so that they all knew they were loved, cared for, and important.  She instilled in them not only the Christianity that came with regular church attendance, but the grace and love of Christ in the home every day.  It was not always easy to feed, house, and clothe twelve children, but she did it with grace, love, and patience.   My cousins used to say that when times were tough they would have "hint of tuna" sandwiches, and Aunt Kitty sometimes cooked from army cookbooks because of the size of the meals she had to prepare.  She has outlived two husbands, both of whom were wonderful, but I only really knew the first, my Uncle Tommy, who also always let me know that I was loved and important to him.  I loved the two of them probably more than my own parents.  When my father was dying at the age of 89 having contracted leukemia, it was Aunt Kitty and some of her kids who drove to Arkansas from Houston and took care of him and the rest of us who had pretty much fallen apart by that time.  She, and my cousins (some of whom I know much better than the others just because we are closer in age) have always been there for us.  When the rest of our family thought we were crazy to move to Africa to become missionaries when Karen and I were both at retirement age, Aunt Kitty supported our move and helped us financially as well when she could.  She was there at our wedding, and she was there at almost every important event in our lives.  She is still there for us.  My debt to her is far beyond repaying, but when the church in the village of Muranda begins their preschool later this year (it will be the sixth, so we only have eighteen more to go), it will bear the name--St. Kitty's Academy.  The kids there will only know that she is special to me and that is enough for them to honor her name.  Of course, she wanted me to name it after a real saint, but in my book, she is the real saint.  I know a few.  My sister is one, and the church in Karikakari's preschool is named St. Penny's Academy after her.  Officially, the Catholic church requires at least two miracles to make a saint.  I think Aunt Kitty has hundreds to her name and all who know her will agree.  I wish I could do more to honor her, but for years and decades to come, small African children, especially the girls, will get a start on the education that will change their world in the school that bears her name.  I can think of no better way for her to be remembered than to be the name on the preschool that will be their first taste of love, caring, and praying in English.  I love you, Aunt Kitty.

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