She was an aunt through marriage - she was married to my mom's brother, Dean. He tragically died in a mining accident when he was only in his 20's. They had three young children at the time of his death, the youngest only 6 months old. That wasn't the beginning or the end of the hardships she would face. But you never, ever would have guessed that about her -- she was truly always bursting with joy! I admired that so much about her, but somehow now that she's gone, I appreciate it even more.
Even though Aunt Reita remarried twice after Dean passed away, it was no secret that Dean was her true love and that she could hardly wait to be reunited with him. That's why she asked my dad to sing the song, 'Love, Me,' by Collin Raye, at her funeral.
Aunt Reita was a makeup artist for Clinique for many years. In my teens and early 20's, I'd go to Macy's so Aunt Reita could give me a makeover (and samples, of course!) She really taught me how to see and emphasize the beauty in myself and in my life. I will always cherish the talks we had while she did my makeup. She was always a top salesman, and I think that's why -- she didn't sell makeup, she sold a lifestyle of joy and seeing true beauty. What a special soul she is!!!
At Aunt Reita's viewing, when I was hugging one of her daughters, she whispered to me, "Mom adored you. I hope you know that." All I could think was, 'I did! I knew that!' What a gift, that she was able to leave no question in the minds and hearts of those she loved how she felt about them. I am SO grateful to her for always showing me in word and deed how much she loved me. I felt just the same for her! What an extraordinary woman!
I had to leave before Aunt Reita's funeral started. More on that later, but I have been very, very sick. Unfortunately I was not keeping liquids or food down that day, and didn't want to disrupt the funeral or cause a scene... Plus, I couldn't concentrate anyway. As I was leaving, I was very close to having a meltdown.... I couldn't believe I wasn't going to attend my cherished aunt's funeral! But heaven opened for just a split second, long enough for Aunt Reita to let me know it was okay. What a gift. Thank you, Aunt Reita.
I put together this little video of my beautiful Reita Mae. I love you forever and will miss you greatly, until we meet again!