"To laugh yourself is to love yourself." Mickey Mouse
This past week has been a week full of planning, remembering, tears, and laughter. As as family, we attempted to put together the pieces of Aunt Donna's life and place it into a box...a box that would fit into a square six feet under the soil that God created...in the same place of her beloved husband of twenty-five years. Fifty-four years and a week. That is how long the Lord gave us Donna Bisbee in the flesh. Thirty-five years is how long I was able to have her. As I attempt to pull together a few memories of my life with this incredible person, I hope that you get a glimpse of just what she meant to me.
I am not sure I can actually recall being two years old, but I was told so many times about being Aunt Donna and Uncle Harris' first child that I feel like I can remember the actual events. They apparently took me to Wet 'N' Wild (now Hurricane Harbor) and Six Flags, and the zoo more times than anyone can count. Then, in September of 1983, another little human was born....her name was Tonya and she rocked my world! I was no longer the "only child." The stories are told that I was extremely jealous. I kinda believe it. :) One of my favorite stories was that Tonya was learning to crawl and as she was on the sofa bed, crawling, I was at the other end urging her to come to me. As she as giggling and crawling toward me, I moved, allowing her to tumble to the floor! Yeah, sorry about that, my cousin and friend!! :)
Donna was always there for me. She was a "constant" in my life. I moved a lot as a child and had a lot of instability. I recall one particular Easter when she came and picked me up from a hotel room where my parents were...not in the best condition (I'll spare details for your benefit and their embarrassment) and took me to Target. She bought me an entire outfit so that I would have something nice to wear on Easter. If I remember correctly, I was about 8-10 years old and I remember EXACTLY what I wore that day....even what my hair looked like. I remember very specific things like that...from a very early age. It's strange. That day will forever be etched in my memory. She made me feel loved and...just special. I believe that after that "incident" I went to actually live with her for awhile...that wasn't the only time.
When I was in the 5th grade, I wanted so badly to tryout for cheerleader. When it was time to tryout, Aunt Donna fixed my hair like she had done so many times before. She was a licensed hairdresser and my hair was insanely long! She french braided my hair and told me, "Just think about the turd down the back of your head and smile." Funny thing is, I made the cheerleading squad!! :)
Speaking of, Aunt Donna was always my biggest cheerleader! She was always so proud of me. I was a very good student in school and she would tell me how important that was. I loved to write when I was younger and she always told me that I was talented in that. It is something I have always wanted to do....write stories. For now, blogs will have to do. ;) She would always tell me, "Just write from your heart...you have a story to tell." As I have gotten older, I know how much that means now.
When I was a month shy of 14, my world was turned upside down when my mom and I moved to Arkansas from Grand Prairie. Aunt Donna was there at the bus station to tell me bye and it was heart-wrenching. Over time the pain lessened and eventually I graduated high school, college, grad school and got married. When Brice and I moved back, it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I had no doubt in my mind, when given the choice, where I wanted to move back to.
Aunt Donna loved my kids just like she loved me...unconditionally and deeply. She was quick to help when they were sick, and was always available whenever I needed her...until she became sick. I watching her for years taking care of my Uncle Harris who was sick from debilitating strokes, CHF, and seizures. She quit a job she loved at the Dallas County Tax office to take care of him. Papa died of cancer in February of 2007, Uncle Harris in January of 2008, and Granny - her mom, in January of 2009. That was the start of her decline. Granny died in Donna's arms and she was never the same.
Aunt Donna loved yellow tulips. She simply just loved the color yellow. She loved her grandchildren and she loved my girls. She loved telling me how much she loved me and how proud of me she was. She was incredibly funny!!!! She was just always making people laugh. I will ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS cherish the time she spent at my house last April after she got out of the hospital. I will keep the words that she wrote to me on my birthday in December:
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I love you so much and truly do feel like you are my first born. I am immensly proud of what you have accomplished with your career. You are a wonderful Christian woman, wife and mother. You are a good and loyal friend. You constantly try to live in His word and for Him. I cannot believe you are thirty five. I was thirty two when you and your mom left for Arkansas. I missed you as though my child had left. I was so happy you came back."
I am thankful for the time on Earth that I had with Aunt Donna. I am thankful that she did not suffer in her death. I am thankful that, as she was dying, she knew that God had her in the palm of His hand. I am thankful that she is happy, healthy, and whole again. I am thankful that I will see her again. This sorrow will not last a lifetime. Joy comes in the morning. God is good all the time.
Donna Lee Kyle Bisbee
February 17, 1962 - February 24, 2016