My mother’s last remaining sibling (out of 6 of them) passed away this past week. She had been dealing with cancer since last summer and spent the last 2 weeks at home on hospice being cared for by her 2 eldest sons (and my mother).
This Aunt was very special to me. She lived around the corner from my grandparents, so whenever we went to visit them when I was little (probably 2 times per month) we also visited her. Then after my Grandpa died and Grandma had a stroke, she moved into her childhood home with her to take care of her. Thus, she sometimes got called Grandma Aunt Liz.
Aunt Liz only had 3 sons. She was 10 years older than my mother. I remember very special times visiting her. She made me Barbie Clothes (some of which are still around here). She genuinely was interested in what I was doing. I guess she was my “favorite” Aunt… but each of my Aunts are/were special in their own right and held/hold special places in my heart. I just saw her more frequently so I knew her better.
She loved to get photos of my children. My second daughter is named Liz (Elizabeth) as well. Did we name her in honor of Aunt Liz? Not really… but it certainly didn’t hurt that I loved Aunt Liz and had good feelings about the name Elizabeth.
In a first quick look through some of her items, my mother brought home some little SWAPS from a Girl Scout event I went to in 1976. My Aunt had saved them and put them into her cedar chest. I’m sure that as they look through more and more in her beautiful century home, they will find other things that I gave/sent her.
I will miss Aunt Liz. It will be sad when the family has to sell the old homestead. That house has been home to the family for almost 80 years. It has been a place where we all gathered for large Christmas parties – by large, I mean LARGE – 6 kids and their spouses and 19 grandkids. It has been a place that we have gathered to mourn the loss of families members. It has been a place where many have gone to live for a time – some for years, some for just a few weeks. It has been a welcoming place. A steadfast bastion in this crazy world.
The house and land hold many memories for me. Most of the memories are from when my Grandparents were still living, but there are also great memories of times there with Aunt Liz. Not much has changed about the house over the years. The kitchen has been remodeled and added on to. The row of large trees at the curb have been removed and new trees planted. The row of bushes that stood to the side yard between this house and the next is gone – I used to play in a “cave” under those bushes. The front porch is still long and inviting. There is still no heat in the upstairs – only open registers for the heat to rise from the main floor. There is still only one bathroom with only a bathtub. A photo exists of me “swimming” in that tub. The basement is still somewhat creepy – though I remember being down there with Grandpa and exploring the cellar pantry. The yardstick is still on the chair rail behind the buffet outside the bathroom door where it has always been – where the telephone with a party line sat – with the long cord so it could be carried into the huge coat closet on the other side.
Some things change… some things never change. Such is life.
This death leaves my mother as the sole remaining member of her birth family. It makes her the matriarch… never mind that she is only 8 years (or so) older than her nearest neice.
Family is important. Family is the most important thing. You do what you need to do for family. You make it happen. Even when you are tired and your laundry hasn’t been done in 3 weeks… you keep going. You take care of family. You love family. Without family, you do not exist.
Getting dressed now to head back to my mother’s house…. gotta help her with the repairs to her bedroom and bathroom from the winter flood. More on that later. Family!