My dad, tells a story, which may or may not be true*, about one day discovering my cousin Joanie crying because Aunt Dolores and Uncle Ray had produced a third brother for her instead of the prayed for sister.

Well, Joanie eventually got her sister and another four brothers. From those nine children came twenty-four grandchildren. When Lorse and Ray celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary, the clan could barely fit on the church steps for photos. And so, when my Aunt Lorse was diagnosed with cancer, the prayers of those children, their spouses, those grandchildren, the rest of my family, and all of our friends raised a ruckus that God couldn’t help but hear.

“Uncle Charlie, ” Joanie said to my dad so many year ago, “I prayed and prayed for a sister. God didn’t answer my prayers.”

“Yes, he did, baby,” Dad replied. “Just this time, he said no.”

This past Sunday, God answered our prayers to keep an amazing wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, and friend with us on Earth.

Just this time, he said no.

I’ll miss you, Aunt Lorse. You’re the only woman aside from Grandma who I’ve ever seen try to boss my mother and get away with it. I never knew until yesterday that you helped her sew her wedding dress. I’ll think of you each time I work in my asparagus or strawberry beds and wish they looked as good as yours. Seeing you surrounded by your beautiful family, my foremost thought was that you left like you lived, with class, grace, and love.

I hope one of them has your recipe for Italian cream cake.

Marilyn, Dolores, Theresa (Mom), and Carolyn

*Edit: “And yes that story was true. We were under the big oak trees on the swing set at Grandma Gangluff’s when Charlie and I had that conversation. About a year and a half later, Vicky came along. Wouldn’t trade the boys now for the world.” – Joanie (who is all grown up with four amazing children of her own)