Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another goodbye

It's not that there's a dearth of things to write about, it's just busy writing stories, doing shopping, and planning menus, among just the day-to-day stuff.

And then last night I got a call from my second cousin Charlie who told me that my great-aunt Fran died in her sleep Sunday night.

She was 102 in September, the last and the baby of four sisters and -- I think -- two or three brothers. She was ten years older than my father, who she supposedly dropped on his head when he was a baby -- at least they always told that story and laughed about it. None of her sisters lived as long as she did. I only vaguely remember one brother, but her sister Florence was my grandmother -- she was the second oldest. Then there was Rae, short for Rachel, who died young, and Betty who died sometime in the 1970s. Grandma died in 1980-something.

We saw Aunt Fran fairly often when we were growing up since she lived in Tulsa and we were in Springfield, Mo. I remember Easters there, and some Christmases. Her dear husband died when he was just in his 50s, and she was alone for some years before she remarried. It was at her cabin -- actually, it was her second husband's -- in Estes Park that my parents spent so many wonderful summers with her, and it is also where their ashes are scattered, forever looking at the mountains they both loved so much.

I got to spend extended time with her both as a teenager, when I stayed with her shortly after her husband died, and then as a college student when I worked a summer at the YMCA of the Rockies where she also spent summers as a hostess for one of the lodges (until she reconnected there with Sam, her second husband). We'd also spent some vacations visiting, most especially one in about 1992 or 93 when we were there for a week (at a nearby cabin) and also spent time with Charlie and his wife.
We called her "dum ant" -- the roots of the story are long ago, and I don't even recall the details anymore, but it was a silly pet name that she enjoyed too.

Most of her friends and family are long dead, although she leaves various great-nieces and nephews, only a few of whom remember her very well, I think. I have one remaining aunt, and I think there may be another niece too, but I'm not sure, as well as her son and grandchildren.

I'll bet there was a grand reunion Friday morning -- with her sisters, my parents, her husbands -- and all those who left us so long ago. After 102 years, she deserves this final rest.

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