Got the news this morning that my Aunt Jeanette died yesterday evening. She would have been eighty-six next month. Bless her.
She was my mom's sister, the one just younger than Mom. Grandma and Grandpa raised a family of seven children, one boy first and then six girls. Aunt Jeanette was right around twenty years old when I was born.
After World War II ended, she married my handsome Uncle Don. They then moved to southern Illinois and lived in a teeny-tiny trailer while he went to school and Aunt Jeanette worked to support them. After graduation they came back home to northern Illinois.
Some of my earliest memories are of being taken places by them. Ice skating in our city park, to a carnival, on hikes, to Uncle Don's mom's house where they were doing some painting. I distinctly remember picking up the paint brush when all adult backs were turned and quickly painting my white leather shoes.
All seven of the aunts and uncles (my parents included) lived and raised their families within a few miles of each other. There were thirteen of us cousins that grew up together. All the families celebrated every holiday and birthday together. Later on when I was in high school, there was a rash of little babies again which added six more to the extended family.
Aunt Jeanette had four children of her own . . . two boys first and then a little later two girls. She did day care for twin boys (toddlers) at one point . . . who would have guessed that it would be in preparation for the arrival of her own twin granddaughters when she was seventy-two! At that point, she jumped in with both feet to help her youngest daughter with the babies for months often staying overnight.
She was the ultimate homemaker creating a warm, comfortable home. Great cook, fantastic baker. I know she gave away millions of pounds (I'm not kidding) of baked goods and was forever packaging up meals to deliver to someone in need or sending goodies to kids away at school . . . or to us living six hundred miles away. Uncle Don often said he should buy stock in 3M because she went through so much tape and wrapping material.
I talked to her sometime last week. Even though the conversation was difficult because of her heavy medication, her sunshiney outlook and quirky sense of humor still came through. She had what sounded like laryngitis and said she would call me when her voice was better.
Aunt Jeanette was the very last of a generation. The last one of my aunts and uncles to go. Her passing truly does signify an end. I think I'll always remember all of them as they were when I was growing up. My daughter says that's how it should be.
I told Aunt Jeanette often that I wanted to be just like her when I grew up. I'm still working on it. She gave me a lot to shoot for.
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