Saturday, October 24, 2015

My Aunt Elsie

My Aunt Elsie turned 90 this month. Ann, one of my cousins, gave her a party at Ann's house in Virginia. It would have been a nine hour drive and was on a Saturday, so I couldn't go down and back and be in church on Sunday.

Elsie is my only living Aunt or Uncle and I had quite a few. My mother was one of seven (though 2 died in childhood) and my father one of five--so I had 8 sets of Aunts and Uncles at some point. All are dead except Elsie. Family was vital in my childhood, so I spent a lot of time with Aunts and Uncles and my 20 older first cousins. I was the youngest until Aunt Elsie and Uncle Harvey adopted Denise who was 8 or so when I was 14. Being the youngest for 14 years in a dual family of 16 Aunts and Uncles and 20 first cousins (all of whom lived within 20 miles of each other--except for Elsie and Harvey) was quite an experience, let me tell you. Spoiled? You don't know the meaning of the word unless you are me...which you aren't!

For years, I would go and spend a week in the summer with Aunt Elsie and Uncle Harvey. Harvey was a Nazarene minister, so that week was full of church and prayers on our knees in the living room before bed. But I loved the visits in spite of that. They lived in Dunbar, WV, a suburb of the Capitol, Charleston. Considering I grew up in a town of 500, spending a week in a metropolitan area of about 100,000 was a serious 'trip'.

When Uncle Harvey found out I was going to Harvard Divinity School, he sat me down and said, "It's bad enough you're an Episcopalian, don't let those folks at Harvard make you a Unitarian!" Sage advice....

To illustrate the 'family-ness' of our family, I was the one of only 3 Jones cousins (my mother's maiden name) who didn't get there for the party--and there are 17 of us! I migrated to New England and get left out of most 'cousin' stuff since they're all in Virginia or NC.

I did send Aunt Elsie (who has a Ph.d. in Education, by the way) a cross I often wore over my years as a priest. (I don't wear crosses or collars any more--but that's the subject of another blog.) I told her to hang it somewhere and think of me when she saw it.

A couple of days after the party, Aunt Elsie called me. She told me "Jimmie" (yes, that's what they always called me and with an 'ie' instead of an "y") "you couldn't  have given me anything that meant more to me than that."

I got a little misty in the conversation. She is so well educated and well spoken and a tad reserved that I was deeply moved by her emotion.

Elsie is all that stands between me and being the "terminal generation". Long may she live. She is dear to me in many ways.

(Elsie and Harvey once had a dog that wouldn't eat well. She hand fed him twice a day. That tells you more about her than all my words could....)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive

About Me

some ponderings by an aging white man who is an Episcopal priest in Connecticut. Now retired but still working and still wondering what it all means...all of it.