On February 2, 2017, I wrote a blog about my husband, Tom’s, Aunt Helen. We went out to Rochester, Minnesota to celebrate her 100th birthday with her incredible and devoted extended family. Aunt Helen luxuriated in three generations of love and support from her two daughters and son-in-law, her four grandchildren and in-laws and her seven great-grandchildren.

Everyone loved Aunt Helen. Feisty and full of life at every age. A Red Hat party girl to the end. But after the big 100th Birthday Bash, she seemed to lose steam. One of her grandchildren many years ago told her that she had to live to 100. She made that her goal in life and achieved it. But having achieved that landmark goal, she stopped eating, lost contact and started to deteriorate. On April 12, she died.

Our Favorite Aunt

Of course Tom and I planned to go to the funeral. We knew in January that the next time we saw the Minnesota gang would be on this sad occasion. We bought airline tickets that got us in the night before the Saturday 11 AM funeral service.

Thursday night I woke up with a sore throat. By Friday, the day we were scheduled to leave, I was coughing non-stop, despite generous doses of cough medicines. I knew I couldn’t make the trip. So I drove Tom to the nearest airport and went home and got into bed.

A short time later, the phone rang. It was Tom. They were on the plane but there had been a delay. Some baggage apparently dented the outside of the plane and they had to wait for approval to take off. He was worried that the delay would cause him to miss his connecting flight in Chicago.

A half hour later the phone rang again. The flight had been canceled! Tom was now on a long line of irate passengers, all waiting to be rebooked on another flight to their destinations. Okay. Bad situation but probably not fatal.

The next phone call, at around 6:00 PM, had the really bad news. There was no other flight, direct or connecting, that could get tom to the funeral in time for the service the next morning at 11 AM. Not on any airline, from any airport in the tri-state area. Now neither of us was going to be with the family to officially say good-bye to Aunt Helen! Tom was dejected.

I picked him up at the airport and we drove home. A few hours later, the phone rang. It was one of Aunt Helen’s daughters, Tom’s cousin Barb. She had a brilliant idea. Barb’s daughter, Lisa, a pastor, had recently been able to watch her son’s basketball game in Minnesota, while she was on a mission in Africa, by using Face-time! We could watch the funeral by Face-time! The glories of modern technology! What a great idea!

So Tom in Connecticut and the pastor in Rochester coördinated their computers. Tom hooked his iPad up to the television in the bedroom so I could watch from my sick-bed. It was awesome! We saw the family and heard the beautiful eulogy that two of the granddaughters, Lisa and her sister Jennifer, presented together.

To top it off, they quoted my February blog about Aunt Helen in the eulogy! I was so touched! I had referred to the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. After watching Aunt Helen’s family in action, I had realized that it also took a village to get someone to the age of 100. They agreed.

Another grandchild sang a hymn in the magnificent voice we had heard about but never heard. It was wonderful to be able to be part of the service, long distance. Later in the day, Lisa texted photos of the family out celebrating Helen with a beer. Her favorite drink.

I’m not very tech savvy. But I’m in awe of what can be done today to connect people through their personal devices. Maybe it’s the strength of this particular family that makes connecting so much easier. It is fantastic to be a part of this warm, welcoming and wonderful family, through sickness and in health, in person and by Face-Time.


  1. First, I’m so sorry about your Aunt Helen, but she did live a good, long life! Then, I’m sorry to hear you were ill — I hope you’re feeling better, And how sad that Tom also could not get to the funeral, but what a wonderful solution, allowing you to see the funeral after all, and in the comfort of your own home!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. It started out as a total disaster and ended up being only a partial tragedy. We couldn’t be with the family in person and share all the wonderful stories about Aunt Helen over the years. But we at least could share the actual service, which was beautiful. It made us feel a part of the proceedings and a part of the family. And that’s what it’s all about anyway.


  2. Ellin, what a POIGNANT post!! I was seething with anger through the first few graphs with all the problems you and Tommy were experiencing. I thought this was going to be a complete bummer.

    Then, Cousin Barb’s brilliant idea! What a way to turn all that negativity into something uplifting for all of you.
    Kudos to the tech savvy!

    And, one last final goodbye to your Aunt Helen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think many people overuse much of modern technology. But sometimes it can really bring people together in wonderful ways.


  3. Just know that her spirit lives in your heart everyday. I think that people think that dead mean dead, and what I do in my line of work teaches me that there is life, and then after we pass, there is another life. And I would like to think that Aunt Helen is smiling down and thank you for sharing this post with the world. Just a few thoughts I had for you…


  4. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, Ellin, but what wonderful idea. Sometimes you just can’t be there no matter what you do. You were able to over come this situation with technology.


    1. I’m surprised Tom didn’t think of it himself since he’s such a techie. But it is a wonderful way to let families share family events even though they are separated by large distances. It would have been better to have been there in person, sharing stories, laughter and tears. But what we did was way better than missing everything completely.

      Liked by 1 person

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