Karen Burklow Pahs
7/14/1941 – 6/30/2013
My aunt Karen passed away yesterday morning. She has had some health complications for a while, but I don’t want to dwell on this part of her life as it was such a small part of who she was during her time here on earth.
Aunt Karen was the type of aunt that all of my friends even knew, and I have quite a big family. She stood out because she was one in a million, had stories like you wouldn’t believe, and shared them often. She lived every day to the fullest and that is why, although I am very sad that we don’t have her here with us anymore, I can rest easy knowing that she had a very wonderful and full life.
The things I will always remember about her are her laugh and that she would let me get away with things at her house that I couldn’t do at mine when I was little, like put on a whole face of makeup and drink pop. She loved poker and Vegas and would give me and all of my cousins spare change to rub her shoulders at holiday parties while the adults played cards together. One of my favorite memories about her was when she picked me up from preschool. She had three kids of her own, yet still took the time to pick me up for a "day with my aunt." She took me to Kmart and bought me white cowgirl boots. 27 years later and I will never forget it.
During my bridal shower in Indiana, at almost 70 years old, she told us stories of how she was a little tired because she stayed up until 4am the night before at the casino boat gambling and partying – I haven’t stayed up until 4am in a very long time and I am 40 years younger! She didn’t act tired. She made lewd jokes about our “wedding night” and made everyone laugh, as was typical of the type of person she was, always bringing joy wherever she went.
Aunt Karen had such a youthfulness about her and a smell like I will never forget. Just the other day I was sitting in Chik Fila and this woman sat behind me and I turned around because it reminded me of my Aunt Karen so much! My cousin Jenny later reminded me that it was most likely the Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds smell that I was remembering. I know that I will think of her every time I smell that for the rest of my life.
This tribute to her brings me to this morning… I am not a very religious person per say, but I would consider myself to be quite spiritual. I was praying last night and “talking” to my Aunt Karen while in bed before I fell asleep and I told her that if she was OK and at peace to show me a sign. I couldn’t think of one for a second and then I thought of a playing card. It is common enough, but definitely not something I see every day. The playing card would remind me of her and her love of poker. This was at about 10:45pm.
The next morning at about 6:10am, I was looking for a particular cardigan sweater to wear over my outfit. As I moved a pile of clean folded clothes I saw my overnight bag that I had used for a wedding we went to a couple of weeks earlier. Thinking it might be in there, I put my hand in and pulled out an undershirt and a deck of cards that I set on the dresser. Feeling stumped that I couldn’t find my sweater I was standing there in my room looking around when my gaze came back to the cards… I instantly got goose bumps. Not even 8 hours later, my Aunt Karen was showing me not only just one playing card, but an entire deck of cards that I had completely forgotten about until that moment. I know in my heart that it is a true sign from her that she is at peace.
I love you Aunt Karen! You have shaped my life in many ways and always will be a reminder to let go and have fun and just be myself. Rest in peace.
Here is a typical picture of her. This was was taken at my wedding in 2009. She is smirking and winking at the camera while she licks off the frosting from the cupcake. The picture below was taken
at my cousin Jenny's wedding. I am going to miss this woman! :)