Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tribute

Today I should have been sending out a birthday card to my Auntie Vi, as tomorrow she would have turned 93 years old. I say would have, as she passed away this late summer. She and my Uncle never had any children so she left behind only nieces and nephews. Her obituary was small, no picture, no long list of activities or achievements that you see in so many papers these days. She was a hard working, good person who led a simple life and probably did more and achieved more than we will actually ever know.
When I was growing up they lived down the road from us; the farm on the big corner that made you lean to one side when you went around it on your way into town. The farm was very well kept and clean. Beautiful flower beds appeared after you drove through the evergreen lined driveway. When I was a little girl I knew that I had better behave myself when we stopped at her house. My mom somehow left an impression with me that because they weren't use to kids we had to be very good; sit and not move. So I did...I only remember being in the kitchen, and once in the dining area when I was middle school age and my parents were invited to supper.
I do have a recollection of another time when we had a house fire in the middle of the night and we went there to keep warm until things were under control at home. That is when I first saw steps going to the upstairs. I was very young then, and we didn't have a stairway in our house so that  intriqued me:) Aside from a few other random memories, that pretty much sums up my early year memories of her.

Years later, she came to my wedding shower and gave me sheets, that I still have to this day. Not fitted, just simple flat white sheets. I was really happy that she came as my mom had passed away by then and somehow her being there made me feel special. After I married and moved away, we exchanged Christmas cards each year with a letter. When I got into genealogy, my Dad would often refer me to Auntie Vi if he didn't know the answer, so that gave us another reason to communicate with one another through letters back and forth. It was then that she would write things of great interest and I loved hearing her stories and memories of her younger days. She would often say, "Oh Auntie Vi doesn't have a very good memory." or "That could be, I just don't recall."
She often referred to me as Dear, or had her salutation written as Dear Ones. I have kept the letters she had written me and I am so glad that I did.
In my dining room on my table is a beautiful Christmas table runner she had made me one year. I put it out every year and this year when I pulled it out of the drawer tears welled up in my eyes.Somehow I never anticipated that the time would come when I wouldn't write her a card.
One year I sent her the book called "A Cup of Christmas Tea" which I thought she would enjoy as it is about making time to have a visit and a cup of tea with an elderly aunt. Every month I would send her my copy of Reminisce magazine as they were just too good not to share and I often tagged articles I found interesting. She seemed to appreciate it, and would always write me a thank you note but noted that the postage was too much and I shouldn't be spending my money on that:) It's funny, in writing this I just realized that I haven't read my Reminisce since she passed away. I use to read them quickly so I could send them off to her, but now there is a growing pile by my chair...

This spring she fell and broke her shoulder. She was in a nursing home until it healed and was very sad as she wanted to go home. The couple of times I was able to visit her are very special. She was happy for the company and I hugged her and she kissed me on the cheek as I told her I loved her. My last letter from her came in a belated birthday card after she was home again. She said she was so happy to be home but had so much mail to catch up on.
A few weeks later she fell again, this time shattering her hip. This proved to be very traumatic on her elderly body, and  a week later she had a massive stroke and shortly after passed away. I felt so empty the day I got the call.
Auntie Vi was the last of my Dad's siblings; with her went the end of that generation. Even though I didn't know her as well as I would have liked, there is still something that makes me feel very close to her. Is it just because she was family and I had known her my whole life? I didn't know her hopes, or dreams, her heartaches or losses. I just knew that she was family and I felt loved by her. I hope she knew how special she was to me too.
Isn't it ironic that my last note from her was my birthday card and now it only seems right that my last letter to her is on hers...
Happy Birthday dear Auntie Vi, I love you.