The Circle Of Life: When A Beginning and Ending Collide

Yesterday was the first day of school for my boys. Eighth grade and fifth grade, respectively — Their last year in middle school and elementary school, also respectively. And from what I hear, it started the same way that last year ended … With each of them chasing down the school bus before it left our neighborhood. Sigh! At least they’re consistent.


First day of 8th grade — Yes, he ran after the bus with his shoelaces untied (photo courtesy of my husband).


Pre-bus chase smiles on the first day of 5th grade (photo courtesy of my husband).

I, too, am consistent. Last year, I cheaper out went green and sent the boys to school with the previous year’s backpacks, lunch boxes, clothes and unused school supplies. I did buy them new underwear and get them fresh haircuts as part of a family tradition, but this year, I didn’t even do that. I know, I’m a horrible mother. I did replace their moldy, torn lunch boxes, but other than that, the start of the 2016-17 school year looked a lot like the end of the 2015-16 school year. At least that’s what my husband tells me. I don’t really know for sure because I wasn’t there. I was in Boston.

As my boys were saying hello to their new teachers, I was saying goodbye to one of mine. Virginia Delaney was truly a remarkable woman who taught me, through her life example, that it’s not your situation or circumstances that define you, but your attitude. She lived life to the fullest every day, laughing, joking and making the people around her feel loved. From the outside looking in, she lived a storybook life: Married for over 60 years with 5 children, 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, all of whom loved her dearly. A world-class traveler, veteran theatre-goer and the consummate hostess, my Aunt Virginia was simultaneously sophisticated and casual. She was a true beautiful soul. But beneath all the joy was a fair amount of darkness. From caring for a husband with Parkinson’s Disease to six separate battles with cancer and a few other challenges along the way, my Aunt Virginia never let on when she was sad, angry, hurt or grieving. Her approach was to always remain positive while fighting like hell. She was as tough as nails and as sweet as they come until the very end.

We all have our burdens to bear in life and Virginia Delaney had her fair share. But she handled every one of them with grace, dignity, class and strength. My father, her youngest brother, is the same way. I only hope that it’s hereditary because this is a life lesson I want to master and pass on to my kids. You may not be able to change your situation, but you can always alter your attitude about it.


Yesterday was both a beginning and end for my family and me, filled with both great excitement and even greater sorrow. But if I know my aunt, she would want me to focus on the joy instead of the sadness, so that is what I’m trying to do.

Rest in peace, Aunt Virginia.



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6 thoughts on “The Circle Of Life: When A Beginning and Ending Collide

  1. So beautiful Lauren. Thank you for reminding us that we are our thoughts & words, to forever live by. Strength, class & the right attitude exudes from you always. She truly was a gift to those she knew, helped, & loved. ❤️

  2. Was sad to hear about Virginia’s passing. She was certainly full of life and always on the go. That was a beautiful tribute to her life Lauren. May she rest in peace

  3. We were so sorry to hear about Virginias passing. Your tribute to her was a very beautiful one I am sure she will be greatly missed by all.

  4. Lauren,
    I did not know your Aunt Virginia but that was a beautiful tribute to her and I am sure she is looking down smiling at you.
    Knowing and loving your parents as I do, I think you have inherited all of their wonderful qualities.

  5. Lauren,
    I did not know your Aunt Virginia but that was a beautiful tribute to her and I am sure she is looking down smiling at you.
    Knowing and loving your parents as I do, I think you have inherited all of their wonderful qualities.

  6. Dear Lauryn,
    I must comment on the kind words you wrote about your Aunt Virginia. I think I met her once, but I felt I knew her from your Mom’s stories about her relationship with her. The lesson you express about attitude is well taken. If
    we would only stop every once in awhile to count our many blessings, our attitude towards life would improve and our troubles diminish. I, too, possess a great love for your parents and from where I sit, I believe you have learned much from them. Your boys are so handsome and I wish them much success in their new school year. It only seems like yesterday you were jumping into my Mom’s car each morning as she drove you and other children (some mine) to another day f academic challenges. My Mom LOVED each day she was able to drive and listen to all of you share thoughts and dreams. She had, in my opinion, the perfect “attitude” for life. She is gone for 23 years now. Your description of your Aunt Virginia, combined with my thoughts about my Mom, teach us both that a little bit of sunshine has left our world. It will be up to us to try to replace the sunshine and the warmth it provides. Please accept my sympathy at this difficult time. Love, Carolyn Percival ❤️

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