My aunt Josephine Cardenas – Aunt Josie, as we called her – had an adventurous spirit and a sparkle that could light up a room. She was generous with her time and support and was never afraid to experience life. 

On her many travels to Europe, she sent postcards and care packages that introduced us to Bavarian wood puppets, the German traditional Christmas pyramid, and Kinder eggs before they hit the shelves in American stores. No matter the distance she always thought of us.

Through these travels, she made numerous friends who became family. Aunt Josie’s friends loved her so much that they even invited her family members to stay in their homes. After retiring from her job as commanding housing manager for the Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, my Aunt Josie made many trips back to Germany and was welcomed by the Texas flag flying high in her friends’ yards.

When Aunt Josie knew her friend wanted an American rocking chair, she ordered one from the Cracker Barrel. She showed this same level of care and devotion to everyone she loved.

As a hard-working person who enjoyed her career and took advantage of the opportunities it afforded her, she wanted to see others succeed like she had. She encouraged the dreams and aspirations of everyone she met and served as a mentor and inspiration for so many, including myself. She genuinely wanted the best and the most for everyone. 

Before contracting COVID-19, she heard my family had contracted the virus and called to check on us. Now, as I look back on that single phone call, I cannot be any more grateful for answering.  It was the last time I got to talk to her.

After her passing, I learned she was collecting Christmas gifts for my daughter, her great-great-niece. Even in the most difficult times, she selflessly thought of others. Aunt Josie, we’ll miss your big juices (hugs and kisses), your random thoughtful gifts, and your generous and loving soul.