Monday, June 25, 2007

Goodbye to a Favorite Aunt

In the early 1940s, a wide-eyed teenaged girl from western Nebraska set out on a journey south that would transform her life. And six decades later, we say good-bye to Pauline Murray, who passed away Friday, June 8, 2007, in Vidor, Texas. Slight of stature for as far back as I can remember, I am told she was unable to bounce back from an ear infection and a serious case of pneumonia. She was 79 years old.

I was a pre-schooler when Pauline Miller took off for Texas. She was the youngest surviving member of my dad's siblings -- all first generation Americans of German-Russian parents who came to this country shortly after the turn of the century. I don't remember Pauline from her Nebraska years -- only a few infrequent visits that she made back to Whitney, Nebraska to visit my grandparents while they were still alive. The photograph here was taken when Pauline was 16 years old.

It wasn't until the 1990s that I really got to know aunt Pauline. By that time, she had married, raised her family of four children, divorced, and re-married. Karen and I were living in Mississippi, but it wasn't far from the east Texas town of Vidor -- just outside Beaumont -- where Pauline lived most of her adult life. So we had an opportunity to stop and visit them a couple of times.

What a delight those visits were! Not only did I get to see Aunt Pauline, but I also was able to finally get better acquainted with most of my Texas cousins, whom I'd never really known. Paulette required special care outside the home, and I've not met her. However, I have gotten to know Mike, Sharon and Linda and several of their children.

Like most families, their lives have been challenging, rewarding, sorrowful and joyful. It was telling for me that after her divorce from Olen Pollock, aunt Pauline and Oren found a civility with one another that served the family well. Pauline later married Mitchell Murray -- a very good match!

I believe it was her strength of character and Christian faith that kept the family close. She told me after Mitch died, that she found great solace and joy in having her children near and so supportive of her and -- just as importantly -- one another. They have helped each other through good times and bad, and they were there for their mother as she ended her stay on earth.

Grandma Miller was surely looking down and saying, "Well done, my loving daughter."