Thursday, August 16, 2007

Aunt Lynette and Shell Beach

That's Aunt Lynette in the middle, with most of my family on Christmas Day 2006.

I helped with a memorial service for my Aunt Lynette on Saturday in Shell Beach. Actually it’s probably not accurate to call it a service—we set up tables for more than 80 people on the vacant lot next to where she lived, and the event was catered by Alex BBQ (a fixture in that town for years).

Shell Beach has been a family vacation spot since my grandmother bought a house there in 1970 (when I was 7). I've spent parts of every summer since then (as well as other seasons of the year) swimming, fishing and relaxing in this low-key little town sandwiched between the 101 and the Pacific. It's truly one of my favorite places in the world.

My aunt Lynette (great-aunt, really) had been the matriarch of our extended family on my Mom’s side for more than 20 years. She never had kids of her own, but she was a wonderful grandma and great-grandma to a lot of us and our kids. All of us remember her stories, her laughter and her wacky way of taking a 5 minute conversation and stretching it out for an hour or so. We loved her a lot, and it was good to have a chance to say goodbye.

I baptized Lynette in her bed on Thanksgiving Day last year. She was raised in Christian Science, as was most of my Mom’s family, but through some friends and others (mostly my Mom), she came to faith in Christ over the past few years. I remember her talking for less than 2 minutes about her own sense of forgiveness (a record brief conversation), and for days and days about the people she needed to forgive. Reconciliation just wasn’t real for her unless she shared it—gave it away to people who had wounded her along the way. I remember a long chat and prayer for her mother—who hadn’t been very nice to her at all. Lynette was worried that her salvation wouldn’t ‘stick’ if she neglected to forgive everyone she’d ever known.

I wish we were all a little more like Aunt Lynette.

Now she wasn’t perfect, but I can’t help wondering what our churches and relationships would be like if we lived our faith like Lynette did? Personally I have no idea—I’m always amazed at my ability to hold tenaciously to a wound or a slight. Don’t you struggle with that, too? In my entire life I have never known anyone who wanted to be forgiving as much as Lynette, and I want to remember her example as I move ahead with my own life.

Being in Shell Beach again was great for all of us. Ericka came up with us and shared our hotel room—it was a slumber party for the four of us. My dad came up and had a great time with members of my mom’s side that he hadn’t seen in years. Neighbors came and enjoyed the celebration as we talked about our life and faith.

Lynette lived 94 years. She built friendships and loving family relationships all along the way, and taught us all some lessons on hospitality and love and forgiveness. We were blessed to know her and love her. We would be lucky to turn out to be even just a little bit like her.

Here are some shots of the ocean in Shell Beach.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:57 AM

    John, remember to change Aunt Lynette's age. She lived alone in Shell Beach until she was 93. She moved to Burbank in August, turned 94 on Dec. 23, 2007, and died on April 10, 2007. She would have enjoyed correcting you for this because you have so many degrees. Mom


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.