When my Dad was a young boy, he would be in his bed about to fall asleep, unaware that his older sister named Hope would be planning to surprise him when he would close his eyes and sleep. She would carefully move across the room , not to attract attention. When she would see that he was asleep,  she would yell and he would awake startled and scared.  My earliest memories of Aunt Hope was visiting her and her family at their house in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We would visit the Battle of Fredericksburg National Park and pick strawberries at a farm nearby. She  was a talented artist  and painter, my favorite painting of hers was a tobacco barn with a rooster walking on the road leading to the barn. Another painting of hers was a fishermen”s pier that was painted blue, it was on a large canvas and was at my grandparent’s house in Chatham, Virginia. I remember her and my Dad dancing to music at my Great Aunt Hope’s and Great Uncle Bert’s house. She made the mistake of wanting to pet a German Shepherd  named Spatz who belonged to Great Aunt Hope and Great Uncle Bert. Spatz did not like strangers and did not want to be touched so the dog bit Aunt Hope . Aunt Hope never tried to pat Spatz after that. Her husband  worked for the Associated Press and gave our family a book called ” The World In 1975″, this might have encouraged me or inspired me to be more interested in news, trivia and world events.  Our family would watch Aunt Hope’s sons play baseball and wrestle in Woodbridge, Virginia. They attended Stafford  High School so we would have to cheer and support the opposing team when they played Woodbridge High School. When I moved to Norfolk, Virginia in 1988, Aunt Hope briefly lived with us. That summer in 1988, I began to write many poems. I would show my latest creations to her and she would give encouragement and tell me to keep writing. At the time, her younger son was about to graduate from Old Dominion University located in Norfolk, Virginia .   She drove me to a restaurant in Virginia Beach where I had lunch with her younger son and his girlfriend who is now his wife. After 1988, we did not see each other much.  In 1994 , My Dad and Aunt Hope’s father passed away.  My parents and I attended the funeral. I visited her at my Great Uncle Vince’s house who lived near Great Aunt Hope and Great Uncle Bert. She attended the funeral, her younger son and wife was with her. We had an enjoyable conversation. I asked for her address to keep in touch and to send her a collection of poems I had written.  She gave me audiobooks by Tom Clancy and John Grisham.  I sent her a letter with my poems, I was not expecting a response. Also, at this time, I was unemployed and looking for work. I was volunteering at the Baptist Church of  Beaufort and I might have started volunteering at the Beaufort County Library. Before I sent her a letter and my poems, she sent me a very thoughtful and encouraging letter, I had given her my address when we talked after her father and my grandfather’s funeral. She told me to keep volunteering because it might lead to a paying  job which it did . She gave some helpful advice about life, based on her life experiences. Also, she told me to always appreciate the unconditional love of my parents which I am still doing today.   The last time I heard  from her was when she  sent me a letter thanking me for sending her my poems and she wrote how much she and her friends enjoyed reading the poems.  Time passes , we become busy and wrapped up in our lives, we think of others but do not let them know that we are thinking of them.  After working at the Beaufort County Library in 1997 or 1998, I walked to my home and was greeted by my Mom who was sweeping the steps . I was not expecting to see her there and I was not expecting what she told me. Aunt Hope committed the cruelest form of irony, Hope committed suicide. This was not the first or last time that I lost someone I knew to suicide.  I did not attend her funeral. I wanted to remember her in happier times. I still have her letters and they encourage me to be strong. When I am about to fall asleep, her spirit is watching over me.