Aunt Marian could tell a story better than anyone I know. She didn't stretch the truth past truthfulness; she just knew exactly how to tell the details so that the story was hilarious. If she saw a bear, it wasn't just a bear, it was a "TERRIBLE-big bear," or "the biggest bear you've EVER seen." She enlivened many a gathering with her details. Her laugh was unique and infectious.
Her care and concern for others was a trademark. Her unequivocal and enveloping love for her children and grandchildren was widely known and appreciated.
I could tell many Aunt Marian stories but will limit this to two (or maybe three. . .).
When Andrew was about two months old, she and Uncle Chuck were on a trip, and detoured several hours to come see the new baby. Due to work schedules, we could only spend about half an hour together, but they made the effort and I never forgot that. Both of them oohed and aahed and made this mother very happy. The yellow afghan she brought for him that morning is still in our closet (next to the one she made for our wedding).
About eight years ago we made a trip to Illinois for a reunion and stopped to stay a night with them. She heard that ML had had a birthday the day before, and made her a cake and gave her a gift bag. That was some gift bag. It wasn't just two or three things - that bag was packed with little things that a twelve year old girl would love. ML told me on Friday that she still wears one of the hair clips that was in the gift. Aunt Marian's generosity, especially for birthdays, was well known.
But one story touches me the most about Aunt Marian. She was hugely loyal and supportive of her children in every possible way. I remember when my sister showed slides of her work at a college and radio station in the Caribbean, at an informal program there in central Illinois. One of Aunt Marian's daughters did not "get the memo," and showed up dressed more informally that the other people who attended. Afterward she said to her mom, "I guess I embarrassed you today." Without caring who was watching, Aunt Marian folded her daughter in her arms and said "Oh, no, sweetie, you could never, EVER embarrass me!"
She was the wife of the elder of a huge church. But most of all she was a wonderful Christian wife and mother. She was my aunt, and I will miss her.