Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Memories Go On

August 6th, 2012

My Aunt, several years before going into the nursing home.
My Aunt
Last week was not one of our better weeks.  The last member of the "older" generation in our family passed away, and for our family (like many others), it was the end of an era. She was our last remaining matriarch - her brother and sisters all predeceased her and now, her generation is gone.

The children born to those folks are now the the "old" generation ... um, I am one of them, but there aren't many of us. We once were an averaged sized family group, where get-togethers saw more than 30 people.

What's left of us now is a small group: the eldest is in a nursing home, one is a member of the Salvation Army and we haven't seen him in many years; and the last three (including myself, my sister and my recently deceased aunt's son) are all that's left.

My aunt with her young son, circa 1950-ish.
With her young son.
My aunt was a big part of my life - from the time I was born. She had a huge influence on me, and is part of the person I am now.  By the time I was born, she had a young son, but she and my mother were very close, and she treated me as if I were hers too (for almost all of my life in fact). I miss her a lot, and yesterday found myself asking my husband if we could go see her today at the nursing home. (sigh) - it's hard to get used to not going to see her anymore (I don't know if I ever will).

My aunt with her brother and sisters, minus my mom, who wasn't born yet.
With her siblings.
She was a strong and tenacious woman, apparently right from birth. She was born in Scotland during the 1920s, at home. Back then, babies were born at home, not in hospitals. The doctor's said she would die - she was "about" a pound when she was born which is a dangerous weight, even today.

My grandmother would have none of the doctor's "say-so" and wrapped her new daughter up in a blanket, put her in the biggest roast tin she had, opened the oven door and set the tin on the door of the oven.  My aunt must have had a very big will to live, because against all odds, she survived. She was the fourth of the five children - two older sisters, one brother, her, and then my mother.

My aunt with her mom - "Nanny" to us kids.
Wither her mother.
They left Scotland when my aunt was a year old, and sailed to Canada. My mother was the only child born in Canada.  Life was hard in the 1920s and 1930s, but they were happy here. Like many families in those days, they suffered their tragedies; the oldest child died at the age of 12 from meningitis; my grandfather lost a twin brother during WWII (still in Scotland) and left the family in Canada to find his brother.

He was caught in a travel ban while in Scotland and couldn't return to Canada for a few years, so my grandmother raised the family on her own, working in the homes of wealthy families as a cleaner; she took in laundry and sewing repairs; she took in roomers and did anything she could to keep the family fed and clothed. I guess they were poor by our standards, but they never were hungry and always had a roof over their head, clothes on their backs, and shoes on their feet.

My aunt, who always exuded grace.
A graceful air.
That's the kind of family my aunt was born into: string-willed, loving and generous, hard-working and ... well, stubborn. They were raised with pretty strict morals; Nanny was a fun-loving person, but she didn't hold with dishonesty, or stinginess either.

She raised her kids to believe that sharing what you had, no matter how little you had was just the thing to do. She figured that people needed to look out for each other, and she taught her kids to do the same. And Aunt Marg believed in that too. I can't tell you how many times she simply gave us (and other family members) things she could have sold, or asked payment for, but never did.

As children, young women, and matriarchs, my aunt and my mother were the closest of the siblings. All the old pictures I've found always have the two of them together - two peas in a pod, two devils of mischief.

My aunt and my mother, always together, from childhood to retirement.
My mom and my aunt, throughout the years.

My aunt's son, grown up and working.
Her son.
My aunt's second husband - a hero and Scottish war vet.
A Scottish War Vet & Husband
My aunt married, had a child, divorced, raised her child for a while with family help, met another fellow who'd "come over" from Scotland and married again. He was a man of honour - a veteran already having served in the armed forces for Scotland. He took her son as his own, and the rest (as they say) is (family) history.

Their son grew up to be a fine young man and an even finer "older man", served his country in a different way (a little more "locally" than his "dad" did), he met a pretty young woman, married and had a son of his own (who is also married now).

My aunt, during her last few years.
Goodbye for now,
but we'll meet again!
She lived life to the fullest - I guess that's what they say isn't it? She worked, lived, loved, laughed and cried and everything in between. She travelled when she could, helped where it was possible and enjoyed the people around her. She left a lot of memories with us, memories which will last to the ends of our days.

She touched the lives of everyone she met - in a good way. Once retired, she spent part of her life doing volunteer work; she thought good of most people, overlooked their faults and was kind and generous to everyone.

I loved her, and I'll miss her.

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