My mother had one sister, Beck.
My Aunt Beck was always a part of my life, we would visit her and her family in Florida for vacations, they would visit us in the mountains for holidays and when she and my mother were together, the love they shared for one another was infectious.
When I was pondering a move to South Florida, my Aunt Beck was the one who made me realize it would all be OK.
Since she was the one who moved away from the nest at a young age I valued her opinion as much as anyone else. She told me to follow my dreams, the words of encouragement were the ones who finally made me realize I could still move away and be a vital part of my family from hundreds of miles away.
After I moved, Aunt Beck and Uncle Larry visited a couple of times to make sure I was adjusting to my new surroundings. I was so proud to show them my life in Florida and when I bought my condo they were my first guests.
My relationship with my Aunt Beck grew even closer once I left God’s Country. We talked on the phone a lot and after Uncle Larry passed away we became travel buddies.
Whenever I was making a trip home to God’s Country, I would pick her up in north Florida and she would come with me.
The trip to pick Aunt Beck up added an hour to my trip each way, but the memories created as we drove up the highway far outweigh any perceived inconvenience the added miles would create.
Her house was about 20 miles off the interstate, so she would have her neighbor bring her to the interchange, we would meet at McDonald’s and she would jump in the car and we were off.
From the time she got in my car we talked.
We talked about everything.
We laughed and sometimes we cried, but I learned about my family history, we talked about how life happens, we talked about dreams and we talked about what we wanted for those we loved most……. we just talked.
And the conversation never stopped going up or down the highway towards the mountains that beckoned us both homeward.
We evacuated hurricanes together, we came for birthdays together and one year we came for Christmas together, driving those roads were all more special because Aunt Beck was with me.
When mama’s last days were imminent, I called Aunt Beck before I left West Palm Beach and she was waiting for me at the interstate when I got there. That was our toughest trip.
She was with us when mama went home to be with the Lord and on the night mama passed, Aunt Beck sat beside her as she made her final journey home.
On the trip back to Florida, we cried more than we talked, but our time together and the wisdom she imparted also gave me peace.
When Sam, Chelsea, Zack and I decided we were going skydiving, in the Spring after mama died, she made that trip too. She cheered us all the way to the ground.
The only thing Aunt Beck and I ever disagreed about was the route we would take home.
When Uncle Larry was alive, they always drove the back-roads and highways enjoying the sights and sounds of the small towns through Georgia.
I was having nothing to do with those back-roads. I wanted to get on the Interstate and hit the gas getting home as quickly as possible just stopping for gas, drive-thru burgers and a quick bathroom break.
On our last trip together we took those back-roads through Georgia. We drove through the small towns that she loved so much and saw she told me new stories about the vistas we saw, the ride was painfully long, but the conversation was magic.
When Aunt Beck passed away, a piece of my heart went with her. My travel buddy had now gone on her final trek and I was honored to help carry her home.
I think about those conversations on the road often. I miss her voice, I miss her laugh and I miss her wisdom, but most of all, I simply miss her.
Aunt Beck was my travel buddy, but more than that she was one of my greatest life influences, I look forward to our next journey together.