I am feeling the awkward tug of time as I realize I have one aunt left who is alive.
True, this is a reality for those of us who dwell in the middle years. Elderly relatives drawing breath a final time as they depart on their forever journeys.
Similar to Frodo and his uncle Bilbo’s leaving behind their home in Middle Earth In Lord of the Rings and setting sail for the Grey Havens and eternal rest.
His friends Sam, Merry and Pip are left to mourn and remember, and continue on with their lives.
I am experiencing those shadows with the passing of the last aunt from my dad’s family. While feeling quiet joy at being newly reconnected, via FaceBook, with my mother’s only sister.
Last night I spent the wee hours, mulling over my aunts’ influence on my life. Each was mother to several children, two all-male clans, and the third and four to families of all daughters.
Being aunt must have been sliced in between those realities. For the most, part our interactions were limited to “hello’s” and “may I’s” when visiting their homes and playing with cousins.
But there were a few longer visits. What stands out even now were the books they kept at their homes, wandering through the woods, and berry-picking.
The only time I ever got lost was during a long visit to my maternal aunt when I was 9. My parents were away on a trip of reconciliation (that didn’t last long) and my cousins and I lugged “home” buckets of blackberries to be made into pies. A fragile, brown-covered book drew me into the saintly world of a little girl from the past.
The large woods close to their house beckoned and I decided to go on a walk there one afternoon. No cousins or brothers allowed. I soon found myself in shadowy, unfamiliar territory, and getting lost. Was that tree with its gnarled trunk familiar? Where did that path lead?
My woods at home was spread out over a hill.Up meant home. Down meant wandering territory.
These trees of huge pines, oaks, and alder spread out over a single level and those clues didn’t mean anything. It seemed like hours before I finally spied a familiar landmark and reached my aunt’s home and safety.
The other aunt I was closest to lived in the country and I gladly plunged into the role of “country girl.” on visits. My aunt must have chuckled at my early risings to mend torn linen dish towels with a needle and thread. Haul wood in for the wood stove. Feed the turkeys named Thanksgiving and Christmas and go through the woods to gather berries and view the wild mountain fed river that marked the far edge of their property.
I renewed my relationship with her in my early adult years, sad that a long-term illness confined her to her apartment. Her resilient spirit stayed upright, and her willingness to try the too crisp cookies baked by a little girl. Dunkers, she called those cookies.
There was never enough time for long visits in the final years — a fact that still frustrates me — but she is forever so close in my heart.
I so miss her. I miss each aunt in quiet ways. And I am happy to have this opportunity to relink with my last aunt before she is called away. . . .
(C) 2017 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All Rights Reserved.