Monday, March 14, 2011

Aunts: Part 3

Today let me introduce Mom's youngest sister to you. She was about eight years younger than Mom, and approximately thirteen years older than I was. I don't remember much about her before I was four or five years old, but there is a photograph of me at the age of three that showed what she'd been up to that day. She had 'dolled me up' in red lipstick, one of her striped skirts, and lots of jewelry. I'm sitting next to Gramma in the photo, on the steps of the front porch.

Aunt 'Nita (Anita) was a 'fun' aunt. She had a sturdy frame and was a bit round. Her personality can only be described as 'jolly'. She married at a young age, to Uncle Ros. They would invite their little neice (me) to spend a few days with them from time to time. There wasn't a hint of jealousy in her when I said that I was going to marry Uncle Ros when I grew up! In fact, she thought it was quite amusing, knowing full well that I'd change my mind many times before I reached the marrying age.

When I was six years old, the young couple became parents to my only girl cousin on Mom's side. We became as close as sisters, in time, but I don't remember too much about the baby when she was little. About three years later, a little boy was born to the family, and being a little older, I was able to be helpful in caring for him and playing with his sister. I loved to push the baby in his carriage when we would sometimes walk downtown. I remember changing his diaper one day, in my church clothes, feeling like a 'big girl' to have been given the job. The little stinker turned into a water fountain, and I was his target! Aunt Nita covered him and laughed and laughed until her sides hurt! At first I didn't find it funny, but Aunt Nita's sounds were coming out in 'ooooo, oooooo' as she laughed, and I soon found myself in a bout of extreme giggles.

Around the time of my wedding, Aunt 'Nita began to have some health problems. She seemed to have problems eating certain foods. She lost some weight and, since she'd been fighting the battle of the buldge for as long as I could remember, I'm sure I thought she was dieting. Now, looking back, it probably had something to do with the ailment she was dealing with.

The time came when I was expecting my first baby who was due in the middle of January. Aunt Nita crocheted a sweet little pink sweater with matching hat and booties, even though she didn't know if the baby would be a girl or a boy. I guess we know what she was hoping for! At any rate, the sweater set was given to me at my baby shower, with a card from my grandmother, who was unable to do handiwork any more. Aunt Nita's gift was another creation she'd made. It was a knitted yellow and white sweater and hat, with a matching pair of knitted pants to keep little legs warm. I still have the tiny pink set, packed safely away. Each one of my baby girls wore it, as did some of my granddaughters too. There was also a cute pair of pink knitted slippers for baby, with a pom-pom head on the toe, with pointed ears and wiggly eyes.

Aunt Nita was sick and was lying on the living room couch, day after day. She couldn't keep anything on her stomach. My Aunt Sis and Mom would take turns going to help with the kids and meals and housework. The doctors said she had colitis, an intestinal ailment. Eventually, they determined that she needed to have surgery. When they opened her up, they discovered that she was riddled inside with cancer. They closed her up, and we waited.

On the Saturday before Easter, I went over to the house and asked my cousin, who was then sixteen years old, if she'd like to walk downtown with me. We had a nice afternoon together while Uncle Ros went to the hospital to visit with his 35 year old wife. When we got home, Uncle Ros looked funny, and he struggled with what he had to say to his daughter. "Mommy died this afternoon." We all stood together, in a huddle, crying together. My ears burned, my cheeks stung as the tears fell. I stayed only long enough to compose myself so that I could drive home.
Their little family needed to be together to let this news penetrate. They didn't need me in the way.

I packed up my baby and left, saying I would see them soon, and to let me know what I could do for them. I drove home, fighting the tears, but not really able to believe what had just happened, until I placed my baby in her high chair. I was still crying and the baby looked at me with a wondering look. When I said to her, "It's ok. Mommy's just sad. Our nice Aunt Nita has gone to Heaven." That's when it became real to me.

1 comment:

  1. Parting with a loved one is always so hard. I'm so thankful that we don't have to part with sweet memories.