Monday, February 25, 2008

Aunt R.

Live as though it were your last day on earth. Some day you will be right. ~Robert Anthony

There was a mass for my Aunt on Saturday. She had passed away on 2/7 at 87 years old.

We spent last spring and summer cleaning out her house and garage as we had to sell the property to pay for the nursing home she had to into. She had the receipt and owners manual of every product she had ever bought. She had marbled notebooks, one for each year, which she had written every check and cash payment in from the 1960's. So you would think she was very organized....NOT! While going thru the filing cabinets trying to find documents, we had to be very careful. A folder full of receipts might hold the car insurance. A folder of old pay stubs would yeild a life insurance policy. I would bring up boxes of paperwork which she had piled on every available surface and Mom sat in a chair and shredded for weeks! Who knew she was such a pack rat!

While doing all this we found pattern books, her very fine crochet work and balls of KnitCro-sheen, which I now possess as my mother said she has enough of her own work in drawers. In the garage was closets full of canning supplies from when her and my mother use to can/freeze everything from this huge garden they had...yeah I possess that as well since nobody else in the family is interested in canning.

My greenhouse is stuffed beyond capacity with pots as she was an avid gardener and had worked in a greenhouse. In her garage was a box of mint condition gardening magazines from the 70's which I stuffed in storage to go thru at a later time. My mom thinks I am nuts! What else is new?

While doing all this I found out alot, but at a time when she was unable to clarify things. She was raised in a strict Catholic family. She married and later divorced which back then was a huge no-no. By the time I came along she was with my uncle. I always assumed they were married as she did use his last name. For years she traveled all over the country with him for his job as a tractor trailer driver. One trip in 1975 she stayed home and it was on this trip that my uncle had a heart attack and died.

Being young at that time I didn't know that their home and vehicles were in both their names but everything that was his was now legally his wife's. I always assumed he was divorced from his childrens mother, what did I know? I was raised not to question things. My uncles kids were alot older than I. As it stands, his wife and him had been seperated for years and their children were all grown with children of their own so his wife just signed off letting it go to the one I called my aunt. So at age 54 and "widowed" she went on to work in the greenhouses. She never remarried or even dated anyone else.

Come to find out, some members in her family ostracized her for living with my uncle. Some of them did eventually get over it and visit from time to time so when we were going thru her things, items that her father had made went back to the family as she never had any children.

I don't know when or what made her but she did return to the church and it became a huge part of her life.

Where as I think I was born a century too late, she was a little ahead of her time. Some people can't stand to be alone, she enjoyed it. She would talk your ear off when you came though! And the thing I found the oddest while cleaning out her house was that she was such a gadget person. She had every gadget that came down the pike! It just seems so weird to learn so much about a person you thought you knew. The love she must have had for my uncle to go against her family. The stamina and stubborness. And then to lose him so early.

The last time she was in her home was in October, 2006. I had to go down as she had called the ambulance because she couldn't breath. I had to help her get changed into better clothes and "hurry up, I hear them coming. Comb my hair and make me look presentable"! I got such a kick out of that.

So now that I am down from bulky to working with lace weight yarn, I think I can tackle making something from her KnitCro-sheen and think about what made this woman tick while doing so.


bspinner said...

How touching!!!! Thanks for sharing.

cyndy said...

Beautiful tribute to R.

...working out your feelings in her KnitCrosheen will be too....

Sis said...

This is a great tribute to our Aunt. Sis being the older, I can honestly say that some of my fondest memories of my youth were those that involved her and our uncle. Mom respected them so much she left me in their care when she gave birth to you. She always had time to sit on floor and draw, play games, do puzzles and have fun. I have albums of postcards sent to me from every stop in their journeys and can follow my childhood milestones through their postcards........."Oh, you are learning to ride a big bike now. How nice" Your mom says you have mumps, hope your feeling better, etc. I agree she was a woman ahead of her time. Strong willed, fun loving, and sweet. Her passions were flowers, tropical fish, growing plants, trees, gardens and crocheting and our uncle and family. When I found out her family abandoned her, it almost made me sad they missed so much of a wonderful persons life. There loss. Thanks for the memory and tribute to a wonderful lady.

Sandie Knapp said...

I'm sorry you got to know your "Aunt" so much better after she was gone, but now you will have those lovely memories to hold in your heart, and that will keep her with you always.

I think most people are totally different in their most secret and personal moments than the persona they show the word. We do need to keep something private after all. :)