Sunday, May 15, 2011

Auntie Lib

I had no thought of writing about her this morning, but since I awoke to a dream of her, she's very much on my mind.

Auntie Lib was actually my husband's aunt. She was as much a mother to him as was his own, and in the last years of her life was even moreso, since they lived much closer than his Mom did. I met Auntie Lib when Mike and I began dating, and he was living at her house in Sag Harbor.  I was immediately impressed with her delightful way of hostessing. Her door would open and she'd say, "Come in, Dears!" and immediately have her table full of goodies and cups of tea.

While snacking, there were many questions. Auntie Lib was very interested in everyone's education, careers, family. She'd been a teacher in her young years, and always encouraged everyone to go to college. She'd also been a counselor and so, she listened intently and was quick to pick up on any interests one might have, in order that she might steer a person in that direction as an occupation.  She had spent some time trying to keep track of family members, both near and far, and kept in written communication with cousins, their children and theirs too. Family was very important to her and she'd attempted to get as much ancestry as she could from others. She had scribbled notes which tied groups together. At the time, I didn't realize what a treasure of information she would offer me once I began tracing Mike's roots.

Auntie Lib, as I said, was a gracious hostess. She would open the door to some that others would not, including Jehovah's Witnesses. She would sit with them and have tea, while so many others turned them away.  I was never privy to those conversations, but she would have been polite, even as she explained her Presbyterian beliefs, and questioned them about all sorts of things. When they were finished with their visit, they would move along.  Other guests were treated the same way. She had many friends who brought their children, who later brought their children and who,much later,  brought their own children to meet that kind woman.

There is so much I could write about Auntie Lib, but I could also sum up her life in a nutshell by saying that she was a very 'independent,gracious woman.'  She'd lived a long lifetime, ninety -seven and a half years, and most of that time she'd lived her own way. She'd had experiences most of us would never know: from sailing to Europe on a freighter, watching WWII begin from a front row seat in London, fleeing the wrath of Mussolini after her husband had written an 'unbecoming' article about him in a newspaper he worked for. She hob nobbed with famous writers and journalists, even had a marriage proposal, before her husband's,  from her good friend, Edward R. Morrow (who was called by his given name,at that time)  She'd had her only son in midlife,  became a widow, and worked to support herself and her home in the years following. She drove her car, even on long day trips, until she was close to 90 years old and traveled across the country on planes until she was 89 years old. Her last years were spent with a live-in caregiver, as a result of having broken her hip. Being fiercely independent, she wasn't pleased with the arrangement, but she eventually resigned herself to the fact that she was under that thumb, and there wasn't much she could do about it. She made the best of it, continuing to keep herself abreast of world events by watching all the news she could find and reading what she could get her hands on.

Life was good to Auntie Lib...and vice versa. I admired her, and learned much from her. I was blessed to have loved her and to have been loved in return. I hope that my life will be looked upon one day as hers is by many who say, "I was so lucky to have known her."