Thursday, October 17, 2013
My Aunt Gladys
This lady and her husband, who had alzheimer's, went into the nursing home, in 2003, I believe. All the time she lived there, she never complained about her circumstances. "They take good care of me," she would say. "This is my home."
About her blindness, she once told my sister, "I'm glad I had my vision for as long as I did. If somebody describes the lilacs or pretty leaves, I can picture what those things look like, because I have seen them. And all of you kids still look as young as you did when I last saw you."
She was cheery and loving. She had as great a sense of humor as anybody I've ever met
This is a lady whose mother died when she was seven years old, leaving her the sole girl in a houseful of males, her dad and four brothers, the oldest of whom was my father. After my dad's first wife died, they took my sister, Maxine, into the fold. Aunt Gladys once told Maxine, "I took care of you when I was eleven years old."
The last time my sister and I saw her three years ago, we were in Bethany for a reunion. Because we arrived early, we decided to go see Aunt Gladys. By this time, her hearing was almost gone as well as her sight. When we walked in, she was all bent over in a wheel chair, and we thought perhaps she was asleep. We roused her though, and Maxine said, "Aunt Gladys, this is Maxine and Donna."
She couldn't make out what was said at first.
Then my sister said, "This is Maxine. Do you remember me?"
Aunt Gladys enthusiastically, almost excitedly, responded, "Maxine Allen?"
That's our maiden name, mine and my sister's. Maxine's last name hasn't been an Allen for some sixty years, but that's obviously how our aunt remembered her, as the little girl she cared for when she was a little girl herself.
Our aunt died Monday at the age of 97. The funeral service today was one of the best I ever attended. Yes, a funeral service can be good. Every story that was told about her reminded me again of her wit and optimism. The preacher did a perfect job of describing her personality, probably because he had known her so many years.
My daughter said, "She reminded me so much of Grandpa."
Indeed, those two siblings, the oldest and the youngest, my dad and my aunt, shared a similar sense of humor. Married in hard times, raising families in hard times, perhaps it was the sense of humor that brought them through.
They don't make them like that any more.