Great Aunts

great auntsAunts are possibly the most significant women in our lives besides our immediate family but it is the great aunts who really put spice into life my as a child.

They know you well enough to care and kid but not well enough to have great insight into your daily life.  In our family there were a few who were also good for a laugh or two and one  who’s home was a story book for me.

Most of my great aunt tales come from my father’s side of the family because they were a big part of my life.  Aunt Mable was the wife of my grandmother’s younger brother.  She was a kind hearted woman but sometimes her mouth didn’t know that.  As a child I dreaded visits with Aunt Mabe and Uncle Les because she always pinched my cheek and had to look to see who I looked like.  I still remember standing in front of the mirror in our hallway crying my eyes out when I was about three.  My Dad asked what was wrong and my purturbed response was, “I may look like my Daddy but I think I’m prettier. ”

Aunt Jean was the wife of another brother and I loved to go to parties at her home.  She was one of those perfect 50’s housewives who made all sorts of fancy little gifts and goodies and she had a lounge chair in her bedroom which I thought was the height of elegance.

On a farm behind lovely tall trees was Aunt Margaret and Uncle Reg’s home.  I only remember being there once.   I didn’t know her well but I do recall how upset my mother got about the “Bible thumping”.

Myrtle was my grandmother’s only sister and they were very close.  I would often travel to her home in Toronto by bus or car, for events like trousseau teas or just to visit.  There was a grandmother clock in the stairwell and a milk door at the back step.  Her husband was a man full of wonderful stories and he had a bright warm study at the back of the house with a dictionary on a book stand.  He was always learning something new.  Aunt Myrtle took it upon herself when I was about five to start me collecting silver and each Christmas and birthday I would get a spoon in the mail.

On my mother’s side great aunts were scarce.  My grandmother and all of her mother’s sisters had died of tuberculosis before I was born.  There were some stories about Aunt Nellie who lived in a tent by the railway track, winter and summer, until her consumption finally got the better of her.  The fresh air was supposed to be a cure but I think it was more likely the death of her.

Family tradition and jokes still recall Aunt Suzie.  Suzie was apparently not a fan of doing the dishes or cleaning up after meals and so she would disappear to the outhouse where she would stay until she thought the coast was clear.  To this day, now 4 generations away, when someone disappears after dinner they are called “Aunt Suzie”.

There were two wives of my maternal grandmother’s brothers who I did get to know a little.  Rose was my mother’s favourite and she welcomed us into her home for many years.  Only a few miles from home, her house were we stopped often on our travels.  I always loved to be there.  She was a generous and happy woman, but I think what I loved most was that my Mother, not a very happy woman, was always in a good mood when she visited Aunt Rose.  Another was Aunt Oli.  I have no idea what her full name was but she too was  fun person to be around though I only met her a couple of times because they lived in the North Dakota.

The other of my mother’s Aunts was Annie, Mom’s father’s sister.  My mothers own mother had been hospitalized with TB when Mom was six and Aunt Annie had taken my mother in to raise her for over a year but when she had her own son Mom was sent back to the farm with her father and brothers.  Still they were very close.  Annie was the wife of United Church minister.  I always remember her home being filled with books.  Tables and counter tops were so full that you couldn’t find a spot to put anything down but housework was the least of her worries.  She had bazaars to run, meetings to attend and poor children to feed and clothe.

Thanks to Jackie Dinnis for the story which reminded me of these women from my past.

http://jackiedinnis.com/2015/08/24/the-fear-of-grand-aunt-grace/comment-page-1/#comment-1064

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About Peggy Guiler

You just never know what show up on my blog. As the name implies it is about the stuff of life just like Spilt Milk. Everyday events spark thought and contemplation. Special events in the community, the country or the world may strike a cord and get me talking. Sometimes it's about people in my life or circumstances, sometimes about my garden, sometimes about a book or a political issue. Always it's about something I am passionate about. In my business, River of Hope Enterprises, I work as an "Associate Certified Coach" (International Coach Federation), a trainer, consultant and speaker. and soon to be, spiritual director. I also drive a school bus to keep the wolf from the door while I build my business. I love the kids on the bus (most of the time). My family is grown and I have three grandkids who thrill my heart but I don't get to see any of them very often. Circumstances of life have made "family" difficult. My son died by suicide at age 16 in 2000 and the strain on our family relationships since has been huge. Mental health is a field where I worked for almost 20 years and where I still do some consulting and training. That combined with my own battle with depression and my son's death weave together to form some of my greatest soap box items: suicide intervention, suicide bereavement and peer support in mental health are right on the top of my list. Social justice is an underlying passion. Keeping the wolf from the door as a single parent was full-time work and my career path as a journalists was augmented with cleaning contracts, cooking, retail clerk, and bartending. I have known hard work and am grateful for the experience and perspective it has given me. My own passion for learning has now taken me toward a new field as a Spiritual Director. I am studying with the Ontario Jubilee Program. This new field I believe puts all my talents with people into one place which and may​ become something I can continue into retirement. Supporting people is what I do best. Woven into all of this is my love of writing. Trained as a Journalist, and having worked in the field as a freelance news writer for many years, I have a great love for writing. This blog is a new beginning for me. As I hone my skills and begin to form a daily discipline of writing I hope it will lead to more writing in the future.
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4 Responses to Great Aunts

  1. Absolutely loved reading about your great aunts! What characters!

  2. How lovely that you have those memories of so many family members. When I asked “Who do I look like” I was always told “You look like Auntie Cissie”. But I never saw a photo of her, apparently she died of TB too. I didn’t like looking like someone who was dead…

  3. What a wonderful posting. I came from a large extended family and had a lot of visits with all the aunts and uncles and have such great memories of all of them.

  4. Thank you for sharing these wonderful memories of your family. Well done.

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