My father came from a large family. There were 5 boys and 2 girls who lived. Another little girl went home to be with Jesus at a very young age.
My Aunt Ruth was either the youngest, or next to the youngest in the family. She lived in California, and we lived in Iowa. We all had South Dakota roots.
I guess I saw my aunt Ruth at my grandparents Golden Wedding anniversary, but I had so many cousins that aunts and uncles were the least of my concern. I never really got acquainted with “Auntie” until after she was widowed and had lost her only son to cancer, even though she had shipped a box of beautiful dresses to me when I was in my junior year of high school.
I had known very little about “store bought” clothes, as I had gone away for my Jr. Year to a Jr. College in Wessington Springs, South Dakota. My, what a contrast! When I opened that box, it took my breath away. I felt that I could hardly breathe. Not only was I looking at “store bought” dresses, but my aunt had always had a taste for the very best of everything, and this seemed almost as if it was a fairy tale.
As I hung each dress carefully in my closet, I began to reflect on all that I knew about “auntie,” which was very little at that time.
All that I really knew about Aunt Ruth was my father’s remarks to me, “You are just like your aunt Ruth.” These remarks never came at a time which I could rationalize the statement as being a compliment.
Even after the gift of dresses, I dreaded the time that I had to meet her and find out what a horrible person she was. She had actually asked for me to be sent to California when I graduated. She wanted me to stay with her and attend college there. I almost shuddered at the thought.
About that time, I met my prince charming, and instead of college, we were married in the fall after I graduated. I still had no real contact with Aunt Ruth, but for the Thank-you note that I wrote, and maybe a letter at Christmas time.
I believe that the first time we met to really visit with one another, was at my parents Golden Wedding anniversary celebration. She flew in from California with a broken leg, just to be there. I found her to be one of the most loving and caring, and polite people that I had ever met.
At a much later date, I told her of my fear of meeting her, and we had some good laughs and explanations about that.
When my husband and I started spending winters in Arizona, (about 35 years ago, l977, to be exact,) we began spending Christmas season with her. She had no one except a gentleman friend to spend Christmas with. He always joined us for Christmas dinner so that my husband had someone to talk to.
She always had Christmas socks hung for us with comical little gifts, and a large box of Sees chocolates. We tried to surprise her with some small gifts of something we thought she could use. The rule was, “If I can’t eat it or wear it, I don’t want it.”
We have wonderful memories of those yearly trips to where she lived, first in Brea, CA, and then in Paradise, Cal, and then in Chico, when she made moves. She had a strong feeling for “muting the T.V. during commercials,” and to this day, we think of her fondly when the ads come on, and my husband will say, “Aunt Ruth says to turn on the mute.”
Auntie took us on a trip to Hawaii. We flew in and toured the islands via ship, a few days in a hotel, and we had a wonderful, memory packed time. One thing that she did was to buy my husband, Paul, a little rag Hawaiian doll, dressed in a little top and hula skirt. He joked about the doll having a very flat chest. The next day, auntie had it sitting on our bed. She had stuffed the little top with Kleenex. Auntie was 88 years old at that time and she told us, “Just wait to see where we go when I am 90.”
Sadly to say, that time never came. Auntie and an operation from which she did not recover. We flew to California to be with her. Her mind was very clear, but things had not gone well with the surgery. She asked the Dr. to take her off of all life support. He told her that he didn’t believe she could breathe well enough to survive, and she would die. She held my hand, and my Cousin Evelyn’s hand. Little tears trickled down her face; she turned to the Dr. and nodded her head that she understood. Auntie repeated her request, assured the Dr. She understood the consequences and still wanted it done.
Auntie was moved to a room where we could be with her. Her breathing was very shallow, and she couldn’t talk much.
I stood there beside her all night long. I was so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to be there, and to ask her if she was sure she was going to be with Jesus. She nodded her head, and for a moment, opened her eyes and just squeezed my hand and looked at me with an inexpressible love.
What a blessing to be able to tell her how much she had meant to me, and how much I loved her.
About 5:00 a.m. I could feel she was slipping quietly away. I knew she could no longer breathe, and that she had made the trip to be with our Savior.
Today, I do not mind being told “you are just like your aunt Ruth,” She was not perfect, but to be loved and accepted by God is the greatest level to which we can attain here on earth. I believe she made that choice, and I will see her again someday.