We lost my Aunt Betty on July 16.
She was my mom Janet’s older sister (my mom passed in 2019), a couple of years older, and she had recently taken a turn for the worse.
When I got an unexpected call from my cousin John, her oldest son, earlier in the week, he said he wanted to provide me an update and let me know what was going on because he felt the next call would likely be the one with the news that she had passed.
My sister actually called me on John’s behalf on Saturday morning to let me know, indeed, she did pass away.
For a time, she was in a type of assisted living facility – my sister described it as a ‘mini apartment’ with a kitchenette and some independence for my aunt – but then moved back into more of a nursing home/care center. It was not too far away from where we grew up so when my sister was back in New York earlier this spring, she got to make the trip to visit briefly with Aunt Betty.
She and my Uncle Eddie had five children – John was the oldest, followed by Debbie, Matt, Gail and Chris; three boys and two girls. For a time in our childhood, they lived less than an hour away so we got to visit quite regularly. Then they moved to Massachusetts, so visits were fewer, but we still saw them several times a year.
My Aunt Betty was one that would always remember birthdays; you could count on receiving a card in time for your special day, usually with a little bit of birthday cash in it as well.
When we would all get together for a holiday, it was quite a crowd; my mom and dad, my sister Sue, brother Roy and I; plus the seven in the Aunt Betty-Uncle Eddie family, made for a major gathering. There were also times when my grandfather on my mom’s side would join in so we made a true ‘baker’s dozen.’
After all of their kids grew up and went on to their adult lives, my Aunt Betty and Uncle Eddie moved ‘back home’ and settled in to retirement. They lived what we termed ‘up on the hill’ which was on some property literally on the other end of town from my parents, up the road and into the wooded area. They enjoyed some good years there but then my uncle lost his battle with cancer and my aunt moved in to town, finding an upstairs apartment in one of the former single-family sprawling homes that had been turned in to a multi-family living space. She was the only one in the apartment and it was more than enough room for one person, though she managed to fill it up.
As everyone scattered throughout the country in adulthood, we haven’t really all been together for a long time. I have seen several of my cousins on my mom’s side throughout the years but it would be one here, one there, not always all together. My cousin Chris – the youngest of all the cousins – has also passed and my cousin John said Aunt Betty talked a lot about Uncle Eddie, my mom and Chris over the past couple of weeks. She didn’t know my cousin Matt when he was there to help get her settled back into the nursing home, but she was full of stories of those she had lost. It was almost as if she knew she would be seeing them again soon.
There is some comfort in that for me; it seems like she was getting ready to go. My sister sent me a couple of photos from when she visited Aunt Betty back east and she and Sue are smiling in a ‘selfie’ in one while in the other, Aunt Betty is contemplating the framed photos on her dresser; one that includes my mom and one of her with Uncle Eddie. I choose to believe that today, she can see them without those frames.
Marg Jackson is editor of The Escalon Times, The Oakdale Leader and The Riverbank News. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.