A Vacation and a LEsson

A Vacation and a Lesson

It may have been a week late, but it was a birthday trip of sorts. I took a week and a day and split the time in two parts. 

I stayed home Friday-Tuesday, hung out with friends, saw a funny production at the Surfside Playhouse and caught up on some chores around the house. 

Tuesday evening I boarded a flight to WV and spent the trip with friends and family. The time was well spent as we enjoyed each others’ company throughout. I was even treated to a couple of belated birthday meals and some amazing cupcakes in celebration of the day. 

I didn’t get to see all my friends at home (so many people, so little time). I hope to make that up next time. I did see mom, my brother and sister and, thankfully, my aunt. 

Aunt Betty (my dad’s twin) was in the hospital and my sister and I visited her Wednesday and Thursday mornings. She was struggling and efforts to help her were not effective. Aunt Bet passed away shortly after I got home Sunday morning. 

Aunt Bet did not have kids of her own and the nieces and nephews were her kids through her life. She was always great to us and I was glad I got to see her on this trip. It’s sad she’s gone. It’s good that she isn’t suffering. 

It was Aunt Bet’s home where the last big gathering of these cousins happened, almost like it did when she lived with our grandmother when we were kids. 

Christmas Eve was always the big occasion and, even in that small house where she and our aunts and uncles were raised, there was always plenty of food, family and joy. Those are fond memories. 

Aunt Bet made the best peanut butter fudge I’ve ever had. She seemed to enjoy us loving it as much as we did devouring it. In recent years she would send some home after a visit or even ship some if a visit had been too long off. I’ll miss those treats that seemed to last forever if properly refrigerated (and you could stay away from them). 

Aunt Bet loved us and she also loved dogs. I only recall her owning one. He was a Dachshund she named Mr. Hans. He was black and tan and looked like a Doberman that had been stretched on a rack. Mr. Hans had a mean streak and he liked to eat Aunt Bet’s shoes and the occasional corner of the living room draperies. Hans’ father was my dog Duke who was the opposite of his nearly evil offspring. I’ve never seen a more docile dog than Duke. 

Duke had the run of our neighborhood, but spent it between our house and Aunt Bet and Granny’s. I suppose he helped keep his kid Hans in line. 

When Duke and Hans were gone Aunt Bet kept to her animal loving ways and was always sending treats of whatever meat she had left from meals or cook-outs home with any of us who had dogs. 

After she married, Aunt Bet and Uncle Jack had a farm that became our summertime gathering place for Memorial Day, the 4th of July and Labor Day. She adopted the area dogs (because those country dogs were friendly) and made sure they had plenty of snacks and water whenever Aunt Bet was around. 

Aunt Bet frequently talked about Uncle Jack and how she missed him since his passing a few years ago. She was right. Uncle Jack was a quality human being and there was nobody like him. I am glad they had many great years together. 

Aunt Bet had a quality life and she shared it with us all...and the dogs. As I reflect on my life, looking back at hers, I can see how blessed we were to have an Aunt Bet and hope that everyone has had someone like that in their lives. 

The question is: now who’s going to remind us all wash our hands before we eat? If she had a saying all of us cousins will remember her by it was that: Have you washed your hands? Yes, it continued no matter how old we got. 

We’ll miss you, Aunt Bet. 


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