Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Remembrance and a Toast

Minda Sue Clay
February 26, 1950 - October 29, 2011
We lost aunt Sue Saturday night after battling cancer for the past eleven months.  Aunt Sue was an incredibly smart and boisterous woman - no surprise given she was one of eight children.  It took me years to memorize the order that all of my aunts and uncles were born in:  David, Sue, Robert (Dad), Richard, John, Lori, Tina, and Carl.  Dad remembers the days when he and uncle David would sing "Wake Up Little Suzy" to her in the mornings to get her up for school.  He also remembers that she got to ride the bus to school, because she was a girl, when he and the other boys had to walk!

Living so far away from Kansas City, I had not seen aunt Sue in several years.  A couple of my favorite childhood memories of her included pumpkin pie and bible stories.  When Grandma was still here, we used to have Thanksgiving at her house.  Aunt Sue and Grandma would make pumpkin pie from scratch.  I remember watching Sue clean the pumpkins out for the pie, and of course roasting the seeds.  As a side note, making pumpkin pie from scratch is not as easy as they made it seem - it takes skill...really!  My other favorite memory is sitting in the living room at aunt Lori's while Sue told us stories from the bible.  Not that she was particularly dedicated to religion, but she remembered everything and she was so animated when she told us the stories, it always stuck with me.

Sue was someone that always treated you the same no matter how long it had been since you had seen each other.  I've lived in Indiana for almost 13 years and every time I saw her she picked the conversation up right where we had left off the last time.  Sue was someone that always reminded me of where I had come from.  I had the opportunity to visit her in August when I was in town.  You could tell that she was beat up from fighting her illness for so long.  Of course it didn't stop her from being herself - I can't think of much that did.

The McDaniel family is large and we don't get together as often as we should or would like to.  But Sue brought us all together yesterday for her services.  Uncle David spoke about her and read a poem for her about how she spent her dash in life - he made sure her service was as special for her as she was to him and all of us.  He also read a short story about the little water beetle that turned into a dragonfly.  It was rainy, wet, and cold at the grave site - something one might expect for such a sad day.

After the services, much of the family met for dinner at Applebee's.  In true McDaniel form, uncle David walked in and asked for a table for "25-30".  There aren't too many places you can walk in, make this request, and be seated within ten minutes - but you can in Paola, KS!  The final count at dinner was 25, nowhere near inclusive of the entire family but definitely enough to make a ruckus.  All of the remaining seven McDaniel children were there for dinner and uncle David raised a toast to aunt Sue.

For me, there is nothing like coming home and being reminded of where you come from.  I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to reconnect with each of you, regardless of the circumstances, and hope that we can do it again sometime soon.  One of my cousins said, "There is no better place to be, if you are hurt, if you are happy, if you get yourself in a pickle, if you are in need, if you are sad and when you are thriving, than with the McDaniel's."  And I say, "Well said, Charity!"

So cheers to aunt Sue - may you soar and see "the beauty of a whole new world and a far superior way of life to what (you) had never known existed".

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