May 26, 2009

hi auntie!

Today is May 27th and the birthday of Aunt Helen, who would be 87 today if she were still alive. She passed away in 2004, and I think about her all the time.

Her essence, I think, lives on in many of the people whose lives she touched, but it especially lives on in my two sisters and me. She used to say, "Some day you will want to bite your elbow, and you won't be able to." She'd give us this knowing look with her playful eyes. I never knew what she meant back then, but I think I do now.

Let me just list a few of the things I miss about her.

1. Her loyalty. She was always on my side. If I cried, she cried.

2. Her undying energy, she was the antithesis of laziness. I often think of her when I am pushing myself really hard, especially around the house.

3. Her love of family and her insistence and hard work to ensure that we (our siblings) always stick together (we do!)

4. Her courage to face so many hardships and still forge on.

5. The slight overbite that she'd get while laughing.

6. Her dedication to her appearance. I NEVER saw her in slacks. She never left the house (as I often do) unkempt or improperly dressed. I have to admit that often I thought it was vanity to a fault, but now, when I realize how hard she worked, I must admire her dedication.

7. Her ability to always make me feel better, no matter how sad or angry or desperate or hurt I felt.

8. Her cooking and dedication to the comfort and value of good, slow food, plus the joy she instilled in me of big family meals. And her ability to welcome anybody to the table.

9. The smell of her house, which was always pristine. I can still smell that smell on a few of her things, especially the beaver hat which is still in the box. I have not worn it in a year, but I refuse to throw it away. Sorry to break that one-year rule she taught me (must admit I break it quite a lot).

Hi up there in Heaven and happy birthday, Auntie. I miss you!

Aunt Helen (right) and her best friend Margaret. They did everything together.

Cousin Anne, another of her dear friends (left), with Charlie, and Aunt Helen, with newborn Cynthia.

Aunt Helen in our Swedish house, with Ceasar (who fell in love with her!) and Patti.

Aunt Helen with Charlie at Cathy's house.


Ulf Akerblom said...

What wonderful expressions of love and respect. Wifie, you are a gifted writer. I can only remember once when Aunt Helen and I cried together. It was in Tuscany by the river Arno, at a restaurant with such fabulous food that we shed a few tears. Maybe it was just me, but I think she joined me in spirit. Aunt Helen was a strong person. In many respects, she reminds me of my paternal grandmother Elsa.

susan said...

what a lovely lovely list. i wish i had gotten to know her more than so superficially - although i do know that i burned my bridges by drinking a beer out of a bottle in her presence! i love the fact that she had her standards and adhered to them and passed them on to you. (like, aren't you relieved memorial day is finally behind you and you can break out the whites in good conscience?).

(note to self: say "slacks" more often.)

susie said...

Ulf, thanks. I know she really loved you in spite of your rocky start! I am sorry I never met your grandmother but I feel I know her in some way. We are both lucky we had these strong women in our lives!

Suz, Yikes, that bottle was really unfortunate, but more important that you were your true self. Aunt Helen knew what a good friend you were/are to me. I know she was able to see you as more than a young lady drinking beer (out of a bottle no less). Absolutely.

FYI I broke out the white slacks about six weeks ago. Aunt Helen always knew I had a rebellious side.

Anonymous said...

So lovely, Susan. The pictures are great, especially the last one with Aunt Helen and Charlie, which is just precious. They do capture her spirit. Thanks

Lexi said...

She sounds like the greatest lady ever... I hope to end up so beautiful when I am eighty!

Anonymous said...

I wish Aunt Helen were around Susan!I would have loved to meet her.... It is lovely that you remember her and what she means to you. There are certainly people in our lives that as we get older we realize what an impact they have had on us. Especially female role models in the family. Makes me think I better get on being a more present auntie! Love Em