Tribute to Shirley Cummins
by Dr. Katherine Kolody
Shirley Cummins was my aunt and also a dear friend.
Aunt Shirley provided me with one of the closest relationships
I have had in my life, and she will be missed every day. Not
only will I miss her, but she will no doubt be sorely missed by
her children and grandchildren, whom she loved deeply.
One particularly loving relationship I was blessed enough
to witness from the age of five was that between Aunt Shirley
and her first grandchild, Jacob McEwen. When he was born,
she gained not only a precious grandson, but also a best friend
who faithfully watched over her until she left this world for
Heaven on December 13, 2010.
Growing up, I lived in San Diego with my parents, but
every summer, my mother and I traveled to Walla Walla to stay
with family for at least a month. Many of my days were spent
with Aunt Shirley and Jacob, whose parents, Steve and Cally
McEwen, were kind and generous enough to allow their little
boy and his "Gramma Shewy" the time together to develop the
special bond they had. Watching them together, I learned what
love looked like.
Mornings would often begin with Aunt Shirley and me
piling into her blue car and driving to Kennewick, where Jacob
and his parents lived back then. Jacob would come barreling
out of his house and run into his grandma's arms, overjoyed to
see her, and she him. We would all get into that blue car and
make the trip back to Aunt Shirley's alfalfa farm in Touchet.
As we passed the paper mill on the banks of the Columbia
River, Jacob and Shirley would shout out in unison, "poo-poo
factory!" Once we were back at her house, Jacob and I would
run off all the energy we stored during the car ride, while Aunt
Shirley tended to her lush garden. Then, of course, there were
the wonderful meals, movies on TV, bedtime stories, and, my
favorite, Aunt Shirley waking us up in the morning but telling
us to stay in bed a little longer while she "put on her face."
Those car rides and the times we three spent together now
make up some of the best memories of my life. Nowadays,
when I think about Aunt Shirley, I cannot help but think about
Jacob also. I was blessed to witness a rare thing among humans:
a soul connection that could not be broken, not even by
death. Later, Aunt Shirley became a grandmother again, and
many times over. Six years after Jacob's birth, Matthew McEwen
joined our family, followed shortly thereafter by Jessica
McEwen, Zach McEwen, Eli McEwen, and Jamailyn McEwen.
Aunt Shirley loved them dearly and I know she had a
special and unique relationship with each one. Unfortunately,
by that time, I had grown into a pre-teen and had too many
distractions that kept me at home and away from Aunt Shirley
during the summers. Thus, I never witnessed the blossoming
of her relationships with her other, dearly beloved grandchildren.
But, how blessed I was to witness the love between Shirley
and Jacob, whose hearts were a perfect match.