I, along with other members of my family, am mourning the loss of my favorite aunt who passed away on Friday June 15 2018. Married to my father’s younger brother, she was Aunt Jane. She was 84 years old. Some will say she lived a long and fulfilling life, she was elderly, her health was declining… it is the natural course of things. Even still, it doesn’t make it any easier. Even though it may have been expected, it does not make it less unbearable. She had a husband and children and grandchildren (and a lot of nieces and nephews) that loved her. Her passing will forever leave a hole.
When your favorite aunt passes away, it’s like saying good-by to a part of your childhood. She was a bright spot in mine. I will forever remember the kind and amazing woman she was. As one of my cousins said, heaven gained a saint on the day that she left us.
Since she lived in Pennsylvania and as I have other family commitments this week, I am unable to attend her funeral services. I would have though. My daughter is moving to the East coast this week and I promised I’d help her pack up. However, I would like to share some of the things I remember about her in this blog post.
Aunt Jane had a way of making everyone around her feel relaxed and at ease. She was an inspirational woman who taught me to enjoy creating. Whether it was sewing, cross stitch, or embroidery she was one of the people that inspired me to create. I still have a hand sewn activity book she made for my daughter when she was a toddler that I will soon be passing on to my granddaughter. She was always making something for someone else, whether it was one of us, her nieces and nephews, her children, sisters-in-law, or someone at church. She always gave herself to the service of others.
I will forever remember her for her kind smile and prize winning strawberry rhubarb pie! Actually, all of the pies she made were excellent, but strawberry rhubarb is what I think of first. And her pie crusts were to die for!
Her pies aren’t all that make her memorable. I remember her for the summers I spent with her and my cousins; Michael and David (Lisa didn’t come along until much later) at 533 S. Center Street. 533 S. Center Street was a giant size green-colored Victorian home situated on a busy street in a small town in Pennsylvania. It had a large porch across the front and side with a front door entrance into a foyer, and a side door off the porch into the living room. I can still remember going in through the front door and seeing the massive dark oak stairway that lead to the upstairs. The upstairs housed a complete two-bedroom apartment with another porch across the side of the house and a stairway up to the attic from the bathroom. She had also set up her sewing room in the upstairs kitchen. I remember bathing in the claw-foot bathtubs, the dumb waiter that went from floor to floor, the ceiling high kitchen cabinets, and the beautiful antique chandelier over the dining room table. Aunt Jane always said it was an old house, but I always thought it was a beautiful house and will always remember her there in it. I remember all of these things, but most of all, I remember the feeling I always had when I was there in that house with Aunt Jane or anytime she was near.
Aunt Jane made me feel worthy. She always listened to what I had to say and she never discounted how I felt. When I was a little girl, probably in 3rd or 4th grade, I would sometimes write letters to her just because she would say, “Write to me Josie. Let me know what you are doing.” So, I wrote, “Dear Aunt Jane, How are you? Fine I hope…” And she would write back. A letter from my aunt! Who would think a simple thing like writing a short note and mailing it to a young girl would mean so much? Something she did before she mailed the letters is add the imprint of her lips in red lipstick on the seal. She always sealed her letters with a kiss. My Aunt Jane never forgot my birthday! She always sent a card when I was a kid, and as an adult, she always called on my birthday to wish me a happy one. Who knew my last birthday call would be this past February?
I remember the time she invited my entire family (my mother, father, sister and me) for dinner. She and my uncle had some news to share! She announced my Cousin Lisa’s impending arrival. Of course, at the time we didn’t know it would be a girl and we didn’t know she would be “Lisa”, but I remember how happy we were.
I remember going to the Dairy Queen that her brother, Uncle Mike, owned. I also remember listening to Uncle Mike on the radio. One day while we were listening to him I remember Aunt Jane asked me if I liked Tom Jones. (Okay, now I am dating myself.) I didn’t know who he was and told her so. She chuckled and said, “You don’t know who Tom Jones is? Well, when you find out who he is, you let me know if you like him.” She said she liked listening to and watching him in concert. (Most women did.)
There are many other things I will remember about my Aunt Jane; too many to write them all here. My thoughts and prayers for strength during this difficult time are with you Uncle Sylvester, Michael, David, and Lisa. Something I know for sure is your wife/mother will forever be one of the beautiful things I hold in my heart.
I Love you Aunt Jane!
And now to share a few cards I made and sent recently. The first is my own creation; the others are CASEd. I hope you enjoy them. And at the very end of this post…down at the bottom, are photos of the activity book my Aunt Jane made for my daughter when she was a toddler. Thank you for humoring me today.
Until next time…