My Aunt Ruth was either the youngest, or next to the youngest in my father’s family. She lived in California, and we lived in Iowa. We all had South Dakota roots. Before I met her, she had lost her husband and also her only son had died with cancer
When I was a high school Junior, I went to South Dakota to a Jr. College, (which also had high school); Aunt Ruth sent me a package of dresses.
I had known very little about “store bought” clothes, as my dresses were all made from chicken feed sacks. They were not so bad. They all had nice prints, but 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.
It was years later when we finally met. I told her of my fear of meeting her, and we had some good laughs about that.
When my husband and I started spending winters in Arizona, (about 35 years ago, l976, to be exact,) we began spending Christmas season with her.
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.”
She took us on a trip to Hawaii and said, “Wait until I’m 90, and see what we’re going to do.
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 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.
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