Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Great Aunt

I am now a great-aunt. My niece gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and in so doing has made me a great-aunt. It caused me to remember my great-aunts, my paternal grandmother's sisters. Millie was the oldest, then Molly and then Helen, whom we called Henny. Each were different in their own way but they had many things in common as well. Whenever one decided to paint or wallpaper their house, they would all show up to help. Gathering together to spin a yarn was something they all enjoyed doing too.

I loved visiting them all. Whenever I would arrive in Lockeport I would run up the street from my maternal grandmother's house to my Aunt Millie's house. She would be sitting in her rocking chair, usually crocheting an afghan, with her budgie bird in his cage next to her singing. She made the most beautiful multi coloured afghans with black borders and her couches were covered with them. The black just seemed to make the colours pop. She always had a molasses or sugar cookie and a glass of milk for me and we would sit and talk about all sorts of things. She never had any children of her own but raised one of her sister's children after she died. She was a sweet, kind woman and I miss her dearly.

When Dad would take me to visit Aunt Henny I loved being able to see my face in her shiny floors. She had wide board plank floors that over the years she had polished until they looked like a mirror. I had never been in a house with such beautiful floors. Aunt Henny never had any children either, but she loved to have us visit her. She always had a crystal candy dish on her coffee table filled with peppermints and she made sure we had one and took one with us when we left.

My Aunt Molly was the fashion plate of the three. She never went anywhere without one of her signature hats on her her head. She liked to dress up and it showed. She had only one child and he died when he was very young. The ceiling, walls and floor of her living room were varnished wood and it felt so cosy when you sat there visiting with her.

 My grandmother had seven children and I think that's why her sisters, who were childless, loved being in her house with all the noise and confusion. Even when Aunt Millie got older and couldn't visit as often, she would call every day to check on everyone. They were close and loved each other. That love spilled over on to all of us in the family.

I loved my great-aunts and I felt loved by them every time I saw them. My grandmother and her sisters were wonderful women and I am thankful they were a part of my life. Each of them different, even down to the styles of their houses, but each one special in their own way. Now I am a great-aunt and I am sure this little one will someday realize how different her grandmother and her sisters are too, but the most important thing there is for her to realize is how loved she is and will be.

A great-aunt doesn't usually play a big part in a child's life but she still has an influence. I have my love of afghans from my Aunt Millie and my love of wood floors and old houses from Aunt Henny. And I love hats and suits probably from seeing my Aunt Molly in them. You never know how your choices will influence others. My cousin has two little girls who have never met Aunt Molly and her youngest child absolutely loves hats. She won't go anywhere without one on, so we call her Aunt Molly and keep the memory alive.

My great aunts live on in our memories and in the stories that we tell. I can't help but think of Aunt Millie when I see a beautiful afghan and I compare every wood floor to Aunt Henny's and they all come up lacking. And every time I see a lady in a stylish hat I am whisked back to my childhood and see Aunt Molly all over again.

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