The last time that I saw my Aunt Fern was almost a year ago on January 7, 2015. You might ask why I know the date. I know that date well because it’s the date of her older sister’s funeral, and just two weeks later my 96 year old Aunt Fern would be dead too.
I didn’t get to see her that much when I was growing up. She was busy with her own children and grandchildren and we lived far away. I do have some happy memories of her house though. I remember my cousin Dale playing the piano for me, and teaching me how to nicely play notes on it. I remember playing with her grandson, my cousin Scott, in her back yard.
I remember when her husband, my uncle George, was in the hospital. He had heart surgery. Things seemed to be looking up, and then his life was cut short. He was only 66. She outlived him by 33 years. She was devastated when he died. She didn’t really know what to do without him, because they had been married for 47 years.
She settled into a pattern and eventually moved nearer to her children. She figured how to drive in a more populated area so she could have some independence. Even though she lived far from her sister, she talked to her often. Even when Aunt Faye moved into a nursing home, Aunt Fern would call her at least once a week.
She came to my father’s funeral and my mother’s. My cousin brought her to my daughter’s wedding. She was so happy seeing her get married. Her great-granddaughter had a baby close to when my daughter had her baby, and Aunt Fern was delighted that they were close in age.
She liked to call me to check on us, and see how we were doing. It was always an interesting conversation, because she was very hard of hearing and you had to yell. She called when my husband and I were at a concert. I went into the restroom so I could try to talk to her. You don’t tell your 90 some year old aunt that you can’t talk right now. People were looking at me because I was talking loudly, but I didn’t care because she enjoyed the conversation.
When she called me at home, I would yell at her for a while. When I hung up, my kids always said “Aunt Fern?”
There are two things I learned from my Aunt Fern to love fiercely and to stand your ground. No better relationship showed this in her life than her relationship with her sister, my aunt Faye. They loved each other fiercely, always excited to see each other and talk together. They also knew how to stand up for themselves. If they had a disagreement, it could get quite loud – especially with one of them very hard of hearing. As soon as they were done arguing though, they were back to loving each other fiercely.
I will always miss those phone calls. I love you Aunt Fern and miss you!