I spent the past weekend in Buffalo with my great-aunt, who is in hospice care. I spent the majority of my time at the hospital and felt fortunate to be able to spend time with my aunt. She is such a special person and despite how she was feeling, managed to talk to and entertain each guest that came to visit her, which was a pretty large number of people.
My great-aunt never had any children of her own, so she took in several Vietnamese refugees over the years as foster children and treated them as her own. I didn't realize to what capacity she made them her own children until this weekend. One of them in particular, was in the hospital every single day for several hours.
He is now married with a family of his own, and his children consider my great-aunt their grandmother, calling her Bubby. The kids also spent time in the hospital, holding my aunt's hand and talking to her. Building with Lego's on the floor in front of her bed while she rested.
His wife told the story of when they decided to get married. Her all-white family was upset at the prospect of a Vietnamese son-in-law. My great-aunt stuck by them, and supported them throughout, always by their side.
They told stories of the trouble her "son" got in during high school and later. Skipping school, coming home drunk, wrecking cars, and a high adventure trip to Vietnam were stories we all laughed over.
And her "son" sat by her side and held her hand for hours. He calls her "mom." He would do anything for her, to the point of offering to have her moved into his home if she can't stay in her current hospital.
I was also very moved when my great-aunt asked her son for his social security number for the life insurance policy. He refused to give it to her. He felt he couldn't possibly take anything else from her. What a difference from the families who fight over every last dime that is divided.
That's true love. Love that transcends blood, and is built from the kindness of a very special woman.