They each lived many states away from me, and that has been the case for most of my years (with the exception of my early childhood and a few years about a decade ago when I had the joy to live close to one of them). Yet, they each figured largely in my life in ways that they may not have even realized.
First as a child, then as a young lady and a grown woman, I have often looked to the women in my family for inspiration and example. I have gained courage for my own life through their stories, their struggles and their vibrant personalities. They have walked ahead of me on the journey through girlhood into adulthood, but we share so much - the same larger than life ancestors who have helped to shape us; the same struggle to make sense of and to find courage for the challenges in the life of a woman.
I have often been inspired by the stories of women ancestors that I never had the chance to meet, yet these dear aunts have touched me in a special way. Both had lively personalities, a great sense of humor, and unrelenting strength of will which gave them the ability to overcome their own personal difficulties. I will remember Barbara especially for her warmth, openness and honesty. I will remember Molly for her delightfully spunky personality. I have been blessed that my life crossed paths with each of theirs, if even for short time, and that I have had the gift of their sweet and strong influences over the years.
Rest in peace, sweet ladies. You are both very dear to my heart.
(This tribute to my aunts Barbara and Molly has been cross-posted over at my blog Small-leaved Shamrock.)