Aunt Rita acted as a Grandma figure on my momís side, as her and Uncle Ted were as close to exact replicas of my grandparents as you can get. Both being siblings of my moms parents, they stepped right in as grandparents to me and my brother, and although they never had children they knew exactly how to raise them. Some of my greatest Christmas memories came from the Chevy Tahoe rolling up loaded with presents, sometimes even with a trailer attached. Not to mention Aunt Ritaís cookies, which Iím convinced had a literal pound of butter for each batch, were the most sought after Christmas sweet in the household. My most fond memories include going out to eat with Aunt Rita, because clearly my own parents had failed to teach me how to EAT. Filling yourself up to the brink of puking is not a skill Iím quite sure I will ever need, but I guess thatís for me to figure out. My most recent memory of Aunt Rita was last Thanksgiving break when I drove to pick her up and bring her to dinner with my family. As we sat in the car, her in back seat making me feel like an uber driver, I was able to learn 2 things. The first was that Frank Sinatra can really set the mood for a relaxing 45 minute car ride, so I guess I expanded my music taste after this experience. The second and more important lesson was that, as I asked her questions about her life and what she wanted out of her future, I learned that life isnít always about change, and settlement is okay. As a young individual trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, I am constantly changing my routine and what I want my future to look like. Aunt Rita had said she moved around a little bit throughout her life, moving wherever Ted went, but when I asked her if she wanted to move somewhere else now that he had passed, she responded saying that this was her and Tedís home, and thereís nowhere else sheíd rather be. Last year when Uncle Ted passed away, I think it was time for Aunt Rita to travel with Ted for one last time. Although death is sad and unpleasant in many ways, I think that this can be seen as a happy transition, from one life to the next, and Aunt Rita is exactly where she has always meant to be: with Uncle Ted.
Aunt Rita was a wonderful person who lived life exactly the way she thought she should live it. It is difficult for me to understand the influence that Aunt Rita has had in my life because my Mom continues to live out the same Downey values every day. I know that Aunt Rita did everything with love in her heart and she was a firm believer in Godís love. Uncle Ted and Aunt Rita have left their mark on this world, and I like to believe they did so without any regrets. You both will be missed. Love, Jacob